Is HP's CEO on His Way Out?

Wednesday Sep 21st 2011 by Stuart J. Johnston
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Reports say that HP is likely to dump its CEO after less than a year at the helm.

In what seems to be a game of musical chairs for tech CEOs, according to published reports, HP is close to firing CEO Leo Apotheker after less than a year on the job and, at least temporarily, replacing him with former eBay CEO and current HP board member, Meg Whitman, who made an unsuccessful run for California governor as a Republican last year.

The news regarding a rumored high-level shakeup at HP (NYSE: HPQ ) surfaced Tuesday, when it was reported by Bloomberg and AllThingsD, citing multiple sources.

Apotheker had replaced former HP CEO Mark Hurd in late September of 2010, after Hurd resigned in a sexual harassment scandal. Meanwhile, Apotheker joined HP after less than a year as CEO of German software maker SAP AG (NYSE: SAP).

However, there has been quite a bit of consternation among shareholders and analysts regarding a strategic reshuffling announced last month. That included Apotheker killing off the company's PalmOS and tablet computer products, the potential spin off of HP's PC division, and the $10 billion purchase of enterprise information management software firm Autonomy, on top of a disappointing third quarter.

Much of the company's strategic reshuffling has been aimed at reorienting HP's business thrust towards enterprise customers, where executives perceive the big money is to be found. That includes shuttering the Palm computing business that the company spent $1.2 billion to acquire a year ago.

That also comes despite HP retaining its reputation as the largest PC maker in the world, whose Personal Business Group (PSG) pulled in revenues of $41 billion in fiscal 2010. HP said that it needs to realign its overall business strategy to focus on a future that's more forward facing toward the emerging market for cloud computing and related technologies.

An HP spokesperson told InternetNews.com that it's not the company's policy to comment "on rumors or speculation."

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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