Hewlett-Packard has confirmed that Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay and an HP director, will replace Leo Apotheker as its chief executive.
The company also announced that Ray Lane, formerly non-executive chairman of the board of directors, will become executive chairman.
“We are fortunate to have someone of Meg Whitman’s caliber and experience step up to lead HP,” said Lane in a statement. “We are at a critical moment and we need renewed leadership to successfully implement our strategy and take advantage of the market opportunities ahead. Meg is a technology visionary with a proven track record of execution. She is a strong communicator who is customer focused with deep leadership capabilities. Furthermore, as a member of HP’s board of directors for the past eight months, Meg has a solid understanding of our products and markets.”
Lane thanked Apotheker for his work for the company but added that the job "requires additional attributes to successfully execute on the company’s strategy. Meg Whitman has the right operational and communication skills and leadership abilities to deliver improved execution and financial performance.”
Apotheker’s dismissal comes eleven months after his appointment, and just weeks after he announced a strategic overhaul of the business.
That overhaul prompted a 20% decline in the company’s share price. However, Reuters is reporting that the company does not intend to reverse Apotheker’s decisions to acquire Autonomy, seek "strategic alternatives" for the PC business and scrap its mobile device division altogether.
Whitman, who joined HP’s board of directors in January of this year, is on the face of it a surprising choice for CEO of HP. eBay is a consumer website, while Apotheker’s repositioning of HP moved the company further in the direction of its enterprise business.
And although eBay’s revenues grew from $4 million when she became CEO in 1998 to $8 billion when she left in 2008, she also presided over the acquisition of Skype, now regarded as a $3.5 billion failure.
However, running a popular consumer website may be useful experience as HP attempts to move into public cloud computing, a strategy it emphasised when announcing its acquisition of Autonomy. The market was, after all, created by Amazon.com.
Before joining eBay, Whitman worked at toy maker Hasbro, where she was responsible for marketing Mr Potato Head.
Last year, she ran unsuccessfully for the Governor of California’s office, spending over $100 million of her own money to fund the campaign.
And in April this year, she became a strategic advisor to highly influential Silicon Valley venture capital fund Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, where Ray Lane is managing partner.