5 Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Apple's Tax Problem

Apple came under fire this week when the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations claimed the company uses "a complex web of offshore entities" -- including foreign subsidiaries in Ireland -- to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes.

While a subcommittee report said Apple's practices are legal, senators took Apple to task for exploiting tax loopholes. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is more used to receiving applause as he introduces new whiz-bang products, was grilled Tuesday by senators about Apple's tax practices.

HP Takes Q2 Hit, But CEO Vows Better Execution

No matter how you look at them, the numbers were tough for Hewlett-Packard's second fiscal quarter: Personal systems sales were down 20 percent to $7.58 billion while Enterprise Group sales dropped 10 percent to $6.81 billion -- the latter including a 12 percent drop in industry-standard server sales and a whopping 37 percent plunge in business-critical systems sales.

But there were silver linings to the results. The company's earnings were higher than anticipated, fueled by better-than-expected performances from the company's enterprise services and printing businesses. And the company generated $3.6 billion in cash flow from operations. All that caused HP shares to rise in after-hours trading.

And in an exclusive interview with CRN, HP CEO Meg Whitman vowed to stay competitive in the server market against rival Dell.

HTC Suffers Executive Brain Drain

Once-high-flying smartphone manufacturer HTC is said to be in disarray following an exodus of company executives. Chief product officer Kouji Kodera and global communications vice president Jason Gordon are the latest executives to leave the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company.

The company confirmed the departures. "HTC continues to invest in talent and recruitment as part of our broader human resources strategy to ensure the continued strength of our company’s organizational structure," HTC said in a statement.

Kodera and Gordon follow other executives, including HTC Asia CEO Lennard Hoornik, who have headed for the exits as the company experiences declining revenue and weak demand for the HTC First "Facebook Phone."

Facebook Home Faces Challenges

It's been a rough week for Facebook. Carriers in Europe have delayed the release of the HTC First -- the phone designed specifically for the Android-based Home application. Facebook has told carriers, including Orange and EE, to hold off introducing the phone in Europe, a Wall Street Journal story said Wednesday.

Also this week, the Pew Research Center issued a report, based on a survey of 802 teens between the ages of 12 and 17, which found waning enthusiasm for the social networking site. Many, according to a Washington Post story about the report, are using Twitter and Instagram more.

And if all that wasn't enough, SeattlePI.com reports that Eminem's song publisher, Eight Mile Style, is suing Facebook and its ad agency for allegedly copying his 2000 song "Under the Influence" in an advertisement for Facebook Home.

The Dell Bid To Go Private Drags On

Yes, we know this ongoing saga has become a regular feature of "5 That Dropped The Ball." It's the story that keeps on giving.

When we last left the story, a group of investors led by Carl Icahn was making an alternative offer to the $24.4 billion leveraged buyout engineered by CEO Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners. This week Dell's special committee wrote back to Icahn and his ally, Southeastern Asset Management, asking for more information about how they plan to finance their offer.

Without that information, the committee said in a letter earlier this week, there was no way it could conclude Icahn had a superior offer. And the maneuvering goes on.

See CRN's 5 Companies That Came To Win for the week ending May 24.