Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Carly Fiorina no longer HP CEO

It's official - Carly Fiorina is no longer HP CEO. I remember being at an HP Labs conference when the Compaq merger closed. The HP engineers and scientists were all crying. No one thought it was a good move. Since then, HP has gone downhill. I'm not sure what they are still doing in the commodity PC business - they should focus on imaging and printers. HP's market cap is up $7B today on the news!

Carly is a tremendously effective speaker and communicator. She isn't dumb, either. But, she is in no way a technologist. The job requirements for the CEO position in a public technology company are tremendous. The set of people who can do the job well is very, very small. Having said this, I believe that CEOs are overpaid these days - in no way should someone who merely takes over control of an existing successful enterprise be paid $100M - that should be reserved for someone (an entrepreneur) who actually creates such an enterprise.

A modern CEO has to have the following qualities:
1) Must communicate well with financial markets
2) Must communicate well within the company, to engineers as well as marketers
3) Must be able to get by on 4 hours of sleep and endure 14 hour work days for years on end
4) Must understand technical issues well enough to have strategic vision
5) Must be decisive - cannot lose sleep over hard decisions
6) Must inspire confidence and exhibit leadership, both at the small team and enterprise level

I would say Carly only fell short in quality (4). But that was enough for a disaster! If I had to pick an ideal CEO, I would have to go with Steve Jobs. No one has his innate feel for both technology and marketing, and no one is as willing to take bet-the-farm risks (OS X, iPod, Mac Mini...).

See here for reaction from tech geeks and HP employees.


Anonymous said...

Carly Fiorina is a person who does not or can not listen. There was the problem from the beginning, and here she has not been alone but on her part this was evident.


Anonymous said...

So Carly has a market value of negative 7 billion, that's pretty amazing.

Another requirement for a good CEO would be the ability to asses business decisions dispassionately, which Carly also failed. My wife, an HP employee, has told me of numerous promising technical projects which were killed because Carly had a beef with the VPs in charge of them. It was pretty clear by the end that the Compaq merger itself was also all about her, not about business.

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