HP Ousts Apotheker, Partners Applaud Dismissal

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HP Thursday fired President and CEO Leo Apotheker less than a year after picking him to succeed Mark Hurd.

HP’s board of directors appointed one of its own, Meg Whitman, to replace him. Whitman, the former president and CEO of eBay and an unsuccessful California gubernatorial candidate in 2010, joined the HP board earlier this year.

"We are fortunate to have someone of Meg Whitman’s caliber and experience step up to lead HP,” said Ray Lane, who Thursday moved from non-executive chairman to executive chairman of HP’s board, 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."

Apotheker also resigned his seat on the board, the company said.



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Many channel partners of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company are pleased with the turn of events. Consensus opinion among several HP partners contacted by CRN is that Apotheker didn't show enough interest in the channel and made some questionable decisions during his brief tenure at the helm that negatively impacted their businesses.

In particular, HP solution providers are displeased with the uncertainty created in August when HP unceremoniously disclosed that it is considering a sale or spin-off of its $42 billion Personal Systems Group, a revelation that partners say has put channel deals in jeopardy. Some are also disgruntled over HP’s move to pull the much-ballyhooed HP TouchPad tablet from the market after just six weeks.

Some HP partners are downright giddy that Apotheker is no longer with HP.

"I am ecstatic," said Sam Haffar, president and co-CEO of Computex, one of HP's top enterprise partners and a CRN Tech Elite 250 solution provider based in Houston, Tex. "This guy was fired by SAP and was unemployed when HP hired him. [HP's board] should have done their due diligence. Now they get rid of him in less than a year. It should have happened sooner!"

Leigh Carpenter, director of strategic services for Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based HP partner, said Apotheker didn't really connect with the HP channel, despite making appearances at the major HP events. "For us, he seemed a lot less in-touch with partners [than his predecessor],” Carpenter said. While she couldn’t put her finger on exactly what caused the disconnect, Carpenter said that “it just felt like Mark Hurd was more hands-on with partners."



NEXT: Partners Say Apotheker Damaged Channel Ties


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