One of the first jobs that Steve Jobs had was working for Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) as a teenager. When he was 13, he needed some parts for a gadget he was building so he simply called up Bill Hewlett directly and asked for some. Hewlett not only gave Jobs the parts he was looking for, but also a summer job.
HP was founded way back in 1939, and Jobs admired the innovation that the company stood for back in his day, even saying he idolized Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) wouldn't be founded until nearly forty years later in 1976. Decades later, Apple is eating HP's lunch as mobile device adoption continues to wreak havoc on the traditional PC market that HP now dominates.
Shortly before his death, Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson:
Hewlett and Packard built a great company, and they thought they had left it in good hands. But now it's being dismembered and destroyed. I hope I've left a stronger legacy so that will never happen at Apple.
"Dismembered and destroyed" seems like a particularly apt description in light of HP's announcement earlier this week that it was writing down $8.8 billion in goodwill and intangible assets linked to its controversial acquisition of British software maker Autonomy, alleging that Autonomy fudged its numbers and overvalued itself.
That was in addition to the $8 billion impairment related to HP's 2008 acquisition of EDS and the $3.3 billion in restructuring charges from the 2010 purchase of Palm while it was on its deathbed.
Investors are now just past the one-year mark from Jobs' death, and so far Tim Cook is doing just swimmingly manning the ship. Cook's golden handcuffs all but ensure that he's going to stick around until at least 2021, so shareholders have quite some time before they need to worry about Apple's leadership.