15 November 2002 Carly Fiorina, chairwoman and CEO of systems giant Hewlett-Packard (HP), last night said that the company would not be deflected from its path by the departure of Michael Capellas.
Fiorina gave an impassioned speech on the final day of Oracle’s user conference in San Francisco, California, pledging that she would stick to the ‘HP Way’. Fiorina had been a last-minute replacement at the OracleWorld conference for Capellas.
Fiorina did not refer to Capellas by name, but the implication behind much of what she said was clear: the company is bigger than any one person. “We are not at a crossroads,” she said. “We are on the same path that we have been on for a long time. Our focus on value is long-lasting and permanent.”
That path, she said, was based around open standards and distributed computing and was first established by HP back in the early-1980s.
But her words may not be enough to deflect the growing criticism by many HP investors and analysts, who have questioned her ability to cope with the pressures of running HP’s operations.
Former Compaq CEO Capellas was responsible for the day-to-day running of HP, while Fiorina was left to map out the high-level, strategic vision of the company. “Investors are disappointed. HP clearly needs a hands-on person. Capellas left the party early,” said David Katz, chief investment officer of Matrix Asset Advisors.
Earlier this week, Fiorina bristled at suggestions that she did not get along with Capellas and his departure was a sign that the merger was in trouble. “That’s baloney,” she said. “Will I miss him? Yes.”
A key theme of her keynote speech was that the IT industry is going through a fundamental change, characterised by quickening consolidation among suppliers. “The value proposition of IT has to change,” she said. “That was the message when HP and Compaq announced that they were to merger back in September 2001 and that is still the message today.”
Capellas’ resignation was announced on Monday. He is now negotiating with WorldCom directors over the terms of his possible appointment as chairman and CEO of the scandal-wracked telecoms company, which is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.