9 January 2002 Hewlett-Packard (HP) CEO Carly Fiorina, has defended the company’s planned acquisition of rival Compaq Computer, claiming the deal stayed true to HP’s traditions.
In her first major public appearance since HP’s founding families united against the $20 billion (€22.4bn) deal, Fiorina told a consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada that the company “cannot sustain [itself] by standing still. HP cannot be a company frozen in time.”
Some members of the audience wore red pro-merger badges, and the under-fire CEO sought to curry favour with others by giving away dozens of digital cameras to randomly selected people.
She used a demonstration of new digital camera and printing technology as a stepping stone to discuss the implications of the Compaq merger, deliberately attempting to reclaim the initiative from the founding families by picking up their fathers’ mantle.
Quoting David Packard, the co-founder and father of some of the deal’s most vocal opponents, she said: “To remain static is to lose ground”. Packard and partner William Hewlett had grown the business by buying companies as well as focusing on in-house research and innovation, she said.
“For most of us at HP, the images that inspire and move us most are images of David Packard and William Hewlett. In the days ahead we are going to draw upon the same courage, the same determination, the same aspirations that drove our founders,” she said.
“Every step along the way there have been sceptics who said it won’t work, that it’s not the ‘HP Way’. The people of HP have always known that the only constant in this industry is change.”
Demonstrating how HP’s digital cameras and printers worked together, she said the merger would harness the technologies of HP and Compaq by adding capabilities and expertise in such areas as mobility.
Fiorina’s keynote speech came two days after the conflict between the deal’s chief opponent, HP board member Walter Hewlett, and the rest of the board turned ugly when the board claimed Hewlett had made “inappropriate and inaccurate” allegations about why he voted for the deal.
Hewlett responded by saying the board’s statement was a “careful construct of fine lines and half truths.” Fiorina avoided discussing that row during her remarks.
Hewlett claims rebuffed by HP as ‘inaccurate’ (8 January 2002)