updated 12:35 pm EDT, Wed September 21, 2011
HP board may vote to fire Apotheker early
HP's board of directors is near holding a meeting that could fire its CEO Leo Apotheker less than a year into his stint, a pair of sources said Wednesday. The group is said by Bloomberg to be unhappy both with nine months of consecutive forecast drops and plans to drop mobile hardware and PCs. Under one proposal, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman would take over, at least temporarily.
The company hasn't commented on the rumors.
Apotheker made the decision to drop HP's webOS hardware and unveil intentions to either spin out or sell home computers with the claim that tablets, more specifically the iPad, were making both businesses unprofitable. Investors and other critics, however, have said that both decisions were premature. The TouchPad was on shelves just six weeks before it was dropped yet saw runaway demand when priced at $100 on a fire sale. By announcing plans to back away from PCs a full 12 to 18 months before it might happen, it may also have torpedoed the business by leading some buyers to doubt whether HP would be committed to its systems in the long run.
Between exiting the devices and making a $10 billion deal to buy the UK's Autonomy, many have seen Apotheker simply trying to recreate his former employer, SAP, at HP. Enterprise services are more profitable, but many have pointed out that HP is synonymous with home PCs and would be tossing out much of its public identity.