Thursday, February 10, 2005


Carly Fiorina has finally left HP. AlwaysOn has a great reminder of her initial missteps by republishing an old Red Herring letter to Fiorina:

"Ms. Fiorina, Please resign."
Back in January of 2002, Red Herring editors called on Carly Fiorina to resign. Here is a replay of our then infamous letter. Also reprinted below is then editor, Jason Pontin's reflections on the "open letter" that appeared in his column in the same issue.

January 15, 2002 To: Carly Fiorina
From: the editors of Red Herring
Re: your departure

Dear Ms. Fiorina,

Please resign.

You were appointed in 1999 to replace the boring if dependable Lewis Platt. An outsider, you brought to Hewlett-Packard the cult of the celebrity CEO. You said the right things: You promised Wall Street 15 percent annual growth when HP (a sclerotic giant with $42 billion in sales) had seen its growth dip below that figure in 1998. You predicted that HP would be a leader in "the second phase of Internet." You assured employees that you would embrace and yet reform the "HP Way"--the egalitarian, innovative, technologically driven corporate culture that Bill Hewlett and David Packard created.

You have not met any of these promises.
Third, far from embracing and renewing HP's corporate culture, your personal style has been comically at odds with the company's traditions. While a CEO with a bodyguard and a Gulfstream IV jet (and tens of millions of dollars in compensation) might be appropriate for some companies, at geeky, democratic HP you have alienated everyone. The 6,000 layoffs you ordered profoundly shocked a company that never laid off anybody.
The merger is like two starving men agreeing to share a crust of bread.

You say that your critics offer no alternatives? Here are some: HP's mergers should aim to acquire technology, not "scale." Specifically, if HP does plan to sell services and servers, it should, like Sun Microsystems and IBM, sell software as a driver of those products. Why not buy a database, data-storage, or server operating system company? And if HP hopes to be a leader in the second phase of the Internet, it should invest more in research and development and seize new markets in wireless technologies, handheld devices, and the Internet infrastructure that would link such devices together. Your company's best chance is to embrace its own engineering traditions.

Many have suggested that if HP's shareholders reject the proposed merger, you will resign. But even if the merger is approved, you should leave. You have badly damaged HP's morale, organization, and strategy. Please go.

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