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An Engineer's View of Carly Fiorina's Leadership 627

Posted by Zonk
from the yikes dept.
prostoalex writes "There is a pretty damning look at Carly Fiorina's leadership while at HP on TechnologyReview.com. The author was working for HP Labs, the center of invention and innovation for the company, only to be told that nothing exciting will happen in the tech market since it's a mature industry. He left the company in 2003. "The lab was never packed with genius marketers. Carly told us we had no business sense, and that every project needed to make a profit within three years or less. She usually said that right before the research budget got slashed again and more lab employees were laid off."" Update: 03/19 03:13 GMT by Z : As detailed on the TechnologyReview page, they have retracted the story on the grounds that they can no longer vouch for it.
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An Engineer's View of Carly Fiorina's Leadership

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  • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:36PM (#11855174)
    Now, what Forces Of Evil (FOE) would want to do that?

  • by Nimrangul (599578) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:36PM (#11855175) Journal
    Honestly, does this kind of leadership at HP suprise anyone? With the constant garbage they produce and botch-up dealings they make this just explains matters. Alpha anyone?
    • Remember Palmer? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:46PM (#11855255)
      The rot started long before Carly with Robert Palmer's "leadership" of Digital. Having come from the semiconductor side of the house, it was amazing what he failed to do with Alpha.

      Not to mention the unholy tieup with Microsoft - anyone else remember the corporate switch from VAXmail/All-In-One to Exchange on his watch? On the world's largest private network, I am sure that helped Microsoft up the corporate ladder...
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:24PM (#11855464)
        The rot started long before Carly with Robert Palmer's "leadership" of Digital.

        It was all downhill after "Addicted to Love".
        • by DenDave (700621) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @05:22AM (#11857862)
          Yeah.. and lemme guess...



          How can it be permissible
          She compromise my principle, yeah yeah
          That kind of management is mythical
          She's anything but typical

          She's a crazy bitch and smells like a horse, she's a powerful force
          You're obliged to conform when there's no other course
          She used to look good to me, but now I find her
          Simply unemployable, Simply unemployable

          Her style is so powerful, huh
          It's simply unavoidable
          The trend is irreversible
          The woman is incorrigable

          She's a natural flaw, and she leaves me in awe
          She deserves the applause, I surrender because
          She used to look good to me, but now I find her
          Simply unemployable, Simply unemployable



          adapted from simply irresistable
      • Re:Remember Palmer? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sundog61 (816978) * on Saturday March 05, 2005 @10:22PM (#11856719) Homepage
        IMO, Palmer's job was to make DEC an attractive take over/merger candidate. In that particular aspect, he was quite successful. ;-(
    • by BWJones (18351) * on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:53PM (#11855290) Homepage Journal
      Alpha anyone?

      Alpha? Jeez, what about buying Compaq? Killing Alpha was just part of that whole unbelievable financial screw up. What about when HP cancelled their calculator line? What about getting out of and back into the storage business? What about not paying enough attention to digital imaging when it was exploding? They've got some good consumer level print stuff now, but they are still missing the pro level stuff. What about not capitalizing on HP IP? Jeez, they are buying everybody elses cameras and iPod clones and such. What happened to all of HP's technology?

      • by ezberry (411384) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @07:57PM (#11855993)
        I totally agree with you, but just for argument's sake... Dell doesn't really do an awful lot of innovating either. They resell almost everything they sell and don't do an awful lot of r&d by themselves, but Dell has a market cap > $100 billion, and hpq is not quite $60 billion... so it just goes to show that innovation does not a successful company make. They seem to be competing on two different fronts against the juggernauts in each industry - IBM in innovation and high end servers, and Dell in lower-end resale of conumer and entry-level business products, and are having an identity crises, so they're losing in both segments.
    • by King_TJ (85913) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:59PM (#11855322) Journal
      The last things I can remember HP doing right were their laser printers with single digit numbers. (EG. Laserjet II, III, 4 series, and even the 6P - which is a teriffic "small office workgroup" type printer.) The old scanners with single digit numbers were equally well-made and respectable (ScanJet 4 and so on).

      But somewhere around the time they decided these products needed numbers in the thousands, quality took a nosedive and then came the parade of garbage "consumer desktop PCs".

      Nowdays, I rarely recommend anything with the HP logo on it. Their inkjets have the most outdated print-nozzle technology out there for photo printing. There's still nothing noteworthy about their Pavillion PC line, and even their laptops seem like they're generally the size of bricks. (Those HP laptops with 17" displays are just HUGE compared to something like an Apple Powerbook 17".)
      • I'll second that, though I've found the high-end LaserJets are still half-decent. My parents have a LaserJet 8000N that came home from work as a bonus after the customer's contract expired and I have no complaints with it, even after 40K printed pages. I must say the best HP printer I've owned is the LaserJet 4 Plus that the 8000N replaced - it's 11 years old and has a page count of more than 120K and it's still kicking.

        Their consumer grade printers are utter garbage and a nightmare to support; I tell ever
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @10:27PM (#11856746)
      When I hired on at HP in 2001, they had never laid anyone off, ever. I got a sense that people loved working there. I mean, 30,000 employees volunteered to take a temporary pay cut so no one would have to be laid off. But those vestiges of togetherness evaporated a few months later with the first round of layoffs.

      From the start I thought it odd that we didn't actually write our own software. We merely integrated shoddy software licensed at high cost from incompetent vendors. We spent more time "integrating" than we would have just writing it ourselves. And at the end of the day the systems didn't work, and no one (above the engineer level) had the courage to admit we were trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.

      In fact no one had the courage to do or say anything that might possibly be considered unorthodox. The witch trials went on, and every quarter or so, more heads rolled.

      It was critically important to fulfill the increasingly quixotic demands of The Project Committee, who burned us out on wild goose chases for the sole purpose of jockeying against rival Committees, not for increased budget or employees, but to avoid reductions in budget and the requirement of layoffs. Not that protecting your budget is bad. But when everyone above the engineer level forgets about creating useful products and focuses instead on what Big-Bang, get-rich-quick scheme will help position them more effectively, that is bad.

      This atomsphere was only exacerbated after the Compaq merger. All of a sudden every team in HP was in direct competition with its counterpart Compaq team to see which one would get axed. Our normal work week, which already spilled over into our evenings and Saturdays, ploughed on through to midnights and Sundays.

      During the years I worked at HP, its spirit and its purpose have both withered, but there were and are still many bright, dedicated engineers working there who still care about HP and take pride in what they do, even if management could care less. If HP is to recover from its malaise, it must move beyond its culture of fear and initiate a return to sanity, a return to caring about its employees and its customers. HP must take its time. Tread slowly, thoughtfully, methodically towards a culture of quality.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:39PM (#11855200)
    "nothing exciting will happen in the tech market since it's a mature industry"

    So is that it with the planet then? "I'm sorry, the planet is mature, nothing more will happen, history has ended. Please make your way in an orderly fashion to the exits..."

    What a boring woman!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:40PM (#11855206)
    There is some talk about her running the World Bank.

    http://money.cnn.com/2005/03/01/news/international /worldbank_wolfowitz/?cnn=yes [cnn.com]
    • by cmowire (254489) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:54PM (#11855636) Homepage
      I bet that'll make the anti-globilization folks happy. They've been wanting something to happen to the world bank. :)
      • by multiplexo (27356) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @10:16PM (#11856697) Journal
        I bet that'll make the anti-globilization folks happy. They've been wanting something to happen to the world bank. :)

        I wonder if we could get Carly to take over Al Qaeda, in three years goodbye threat of terrorism, and I'd imagine that when you leave Al Qaeda you don't get a 20 million dollar severance package, probably just a bullet in the head and a shallow grave somewhere in the Afghanistan plains.

      • by DarkSarin (651985) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @11:14PM (#11856978) Homepage Journal
        You know, interestingly enough, even though I don't have much against globalization, I still hate the world bank! Amazing, huh?

        Globalization, short of virtually every gov't in the WORLD passing laws against multinational corporations, WILL happen. It is inevitable. At some point, governments will do the same thing (EU, perhaps), and eventually, someone will find a way to create a TRULY effective multinational gov't.

        The US was an attempt at such. The concept was largely independent states united in an effort to protect themselves from more powerful enemies, such as (at the time) England. Originally (as I understand it), the concept was for states to retain most of the power, but the fed to have power for defense against foreign powers, and to make sure that no state did anything to violate the constitution.

        How far we have strayed...
  • by Nuclear Elephant (700938) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:41PM (#11855208) Homepage
    In mid-2002, HP's labs became solely focused on finding ways for other businesses to save money.

    Seems like this kind of backfired on HP's "We re-did NASA" marketing campaign, shortly before the Columbia crash.
  • by jerkychew (80913) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:41PM (#11855216) Homepage
    Check out the sidebar [technologyreview.com] to that article, printed back in February. You know you're doing a bad job if your ex-employees open champagne upon hearing of your leaving. Wow.
    • by SunFan (845761) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @09:08PM (#11856392)

      I bet IBM, Sun, and Dell all celebrated, too, seeing HP go down the tubes. What are HP going to do, now? Somehow hire back all the people who knew everything?

      I think HP should buy Infinium Labs and go into the game console business. Put an Itanium in them and sell them also as bathroom space heater entertainment center combo units. Bonus points if they put a toilet paper roll holder on top and put an Elmo spin brush in the box.

  • more D than R (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wansu (846) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:45PM (#11855242)

    To me, this rabid fixation on short-term profits is a bigger threat than outsourcing -- it is killing our ability to make astonishing things.

    This has been the case with many companies since the mid 80s. Their R & D is alot more D than R. Many of the most admired technology companies of the 60s, 70s and 80s are gone because they ate their seed corn.

    The rabid fixation with short term profits is a problem cut from the same cloth as outsourcing.
    • Re:more D than R (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:22PM (#11855447) Journal
      "To me, this rabid fixation on short-term profits is a bigger threat than outsourcing -- it is killing our ability to make astonishing things."

      Actually, they are related. HP and similar companies are moving their R&D to low-wage countries and getting the same research for less money. Experts are far cheaper there and the laws of physics are the same. Thus, it is cheaper to research say new printing technologies there.

      What is going to be more cost-effect and productive: A lab of 50 PhD's in the US or a lab of 200 PhD's for the same price in India or Indonesia? And, they don't need to be "close to the customer" because they are researching physical processes, not customer preference.

      The US is becoming a big ball of marketing while the "real" work is done in low-wage countries. If you are a true-blue geek who wants to do cutting edge stuff and don't have a family, then try to move overseas. The rest of us better pick up some Dale Carnegie.
      • Re:more D than R (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:40PM (#11855564)

        Actually, they are related. HP and similar companies are moving their R&D to low-wage countries and getting the same research for less money. Experts are far cheaper there and the laws of physics are the same. Thus, it is cheaper to research say new printing technologies there.

        The problem there is that you end up training a bunch of tech leaders in some other country who then found companies and brutalize us in the marketplace. You get what you pay for.

        • Re:more D than R (Score:3, Insightful)

          by INetUser (723076)
          . . . . HP and similar companies are moving their R&D to low-wage countries and getting the same research for less money.

          No, I think that they are thinking that they are getting the same research for less money. I don't believe that they are getting the same thing.

      • Re:more D than R (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ArhcAngel (247594) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @07:27PM (#11855825)
        And here is where the problem of solving problems lies! You now have 200PhD's solving the problem from THEIR perspective. You ever noticed several people will look at a problem and each one of them will come up with a different, sometimes conflicting, solution? Have you ever had a conversation with someone who believed something so totally absurd to you but to them it was completely rational? Some of the greatest inventions of the last century were complete accident/mistakes that came about because someone was thinking outside the box and dared to try and achieve something great. They may not have achieved what they were hoping for but their inventions changed the world nonetheless. The majority of these off shored PhD's are wrote scientists. They follow the path already etched out for them and ever so slowly etch a little bit more. There is nothing wrong with this approach but it will rarely achieve the kind of breakthrough wanton reckless abandon to scientific principles will achieve in the same amount of time. Hewlett & Packard were tinkerers who thought big and were also smart enough to start their own company. Carly didn't start the process of spinning off hp's true core business unit (now Agilent Technologies http://www.home.agilent.com/ [agilent.com]) but she did let it happen. For anything to really last there has to be a balance of PR/R&D/BST (Blood Sweat & Tears). She tried to rob Peter (R&D) to pay Paul (PR) and it caught up with her.
        • Re:more D than R (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tablizer (95088)
          The majority of these off shored PhD's are wrote scientists. They follow the path already etched out for them and ever so slowly etch a little bit more. There is nothing wrong with this approach but it will rarely achieve the kind of breakthrough wanton reckless abandon to scientific principles will achieve in the same amount of time.

          "Only Americans can innovate" is probably a dangerous stereotype. I have not seen any clear evidence of that. Japan has one of the stodgiest cultures around, and their huge
    • Re:more D than R (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cgenman (325138) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:22PM (#11855451) Homepage
      It's funny, but having grown up in the 80's and having matured into computing in the 90's, by then HP had already started to fade. Their computers were notoriously crash-prone, their inkjet printers were slow, and their calculators seemed badly out of date compared to the very user-friendly TI stuff (I know about the power of the HP, no need for a flame war). And since then they've only gotten worse. My entire impression of HP, for my entire life, has been negative.

      It's really kind of heartening to think back to what HP had done, and why so many companies and people still foolishly hold it in high regard. They really were a tech powerhouse in the 70's and early 80's, before they started rebranding iPods with the slogan "Invent." People gave HP a break for a very long time because they had built up a degree of cred, cred which they have been shamelessly squandering for many years.

      But people still care about them. It's kind of heartening that way. Like thinking about your Grandfather when he was young, energetic, and happy, rather than the grumpy, senile jerk he has become.

    • Re:more D than R (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dustmite (667870) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:47PM (#11855595)

      It's basically a modern get-rich-quick scheme for CEOs and shareholders etc. Get in, cut out any costs that only pay off in the long-term (i.e. R&D), report increased profits, pay out huge bonuses, get out. Company may collapse or suffer badly afterwards, possibly putting thousands out of work, but you don't care because you retired a billionaire. It's become a kind of plague on western economies during the last few decades. These people are just "cashing in" on the efforts of their predecessors. The problem is most CEOs are not going to be around long enough to reap the rewards of the R&D being spent now, and they know it, so there is no incentive for them personally to manage the company well. In the "old days" this wasn't such a problem because the culture was somehow different, you just didn't do that, you thought about the long-term; the trend of bonuses paid out proportionally to 'performance' seemed to cause a kind of cultural shift in the way people think about running companies. CEOs are paid far more disproportionately now, siphoning off massive amounts of wealth from the economy .. most ordinary "middle-class" workers today can't afford to live as well as their parents did even when both husband and wife work, unlike their parents when probably only the man worked .. why is this? Because more of the wealth is taken by the few at the top, and the economy runs less efficient. In theory Darwin should sort this out, i.e. companies that invest in R&D should have greater survivability in the long term, but for now it seems this problem is just not going away.

      • Re:more D than R (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Khalid (31037)
        It's basically a modern get-rich-quick scheme for CEOs and shareholders etc. Get in, cut out any costs that only pay off in the long-term (i.e. R&D), report increased profits, pay out huge bonuses, get out. Company may collapse or suffer badly afterwards, possibly putting thousands out of work

        In fact, most of the time this is pension funds fault which owns much of the corporations today; they are asking companies unreasonable return on investment, about 10%, or even 15% or 20% sometimes, this is compl
        • Re:more D than R (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dustmite (667870) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @09:15PM (#11856432)

          You make it sound like CEOs are forced/pressured to increase profits for the benefits of others. Then how do you explain that it is the executives who are increasingly benefitting personally? Google for "Historical Trends in Executive Compensation": "Soaring executive compensation during the past two decades ..."; "In the early 1940s, average executive salaries fell by 25 percent"; "The real value of CEO compensation grew at 8.4 percent per year during from 1980 to 1994"; "The compensation of the top 100 CEO listed in Forbes's annual survey on executive compensation was 59 times larger than the average production worker in 1979 but 311 times larger by 1999".

          Executive compensation has shot through the roof in just the last two decades. This money is not going to pension funds, and has nothing to do with them, this is basically money going directly to the personal bank accounts of the executives. If CEOs were obliged as you say to deliver increasingly greater returns to the pension fund, there would be downward pressure on their personal compensation packages. The opposite is true.

          • Re:more D than R (Score:5, Insightful)

            by nelsonal (549144) on Sunday March 06, 2005 @12:12AM (#11857205) Journal
            I work for a pension fund and know people at mutual funds and the grand parent is more right than wrong. We (the entire investment community) pretty much expects an investment to grow equity at about 15% annually (it generally has to be faster than the S&P). The reason executive compensation has soared over the last several decades is that the few people who have consistently shown the ability to do this (keep their company on a growth rate of 10% annually) are well worth the money they are paid. However, they are exceedingly rare and you do not want to loose one once it is established that they can do this. Imagine the market impacts if a Jack Welch had been hired away from GE in 1999 to say Honeywell because he was peeved that GE didn't pay him enough. So the practice has become over pay (as if they were a top performer) for a few years while a CEO establishes a record, if they are a performer your investment is golden if they are not fire them and try again. It's a lot like a lottery with tickets that cost a small fortune (but with even bigger payouts--a decent sized company that becomes a consistent returner of 15% over two decades will probably be worth about times what you bought it for (starting at say $1 billion and going to $60 billion--to the big investors in the company paying a CEO even $25-50 million per year is pretty small potatoes, if he can maintain that performance and sell the ability of the comapny to keep up with that hurdle for 20 years or so. Once they have failed they are replaced with the next person. I don't think it is right or fair, but from the viewpoint of the large investors it is more rational.
    • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @07:36PM (#11855869)
      Carly made lots of money for stockholders. I can personally attest to this.

      I bought 26 shares of HP stock on February 1 at 19.75. Carly leaves, and I dump my stock on the 9th at 21.50!!! [yahoo.com] Woo hoo! I made $45 in just 8 days (minus commission). Just look at that selloff spike. Some of that was me!

      Anyone who knew anything about HP was partying that day. Even at Agilent everyone was giddy. If I had known Carly was about to get dumped I would have hurled my life savings into HPQ.

      I understand she has a bright future ahead of her in the Republican Party. If the Republicans are smart they'll wait until right before an election to kick her out of the party.
  • by The Hobo (783784) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:46PM (#11855249)
    That at the top of the page, an ad for HP shows up?
  • No one cares... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Atomic Frog (28268) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:46PM (#11855251)
    ...all they want is money. Look, Carly got something like a $20million package (maybe more)for getting fired. Would _you_ care if you knew that's what you would get for screwing up?
    Possibly, if that mucked up your reputation. But inexplicably, IT DOESN'T. Rumors are she's on the shortlist to head the World Bank? WTF???

    Nobody on the board of directors (board of fat cats more like it) really cares either. Or possibly they are impossibly dumb.

    Look, how many of the "frontline troops" could tell you that the Compaq-HP merger wasn't any good and would amount to not much?

    Unfortunately, it isn't just HP. It's nearly every CEO and board of directors.
    Hands up those of you on Slashdot who _knew_ the AOL-Time Warner was going to be bust? Yes, those of us in the field and half a teaspoon of wit knew that didn't make sense and was doomed to disaster. Yet the supposedly "wise and experienced" board didn't see it coming?

    Fact is, these stupid maneuvers are are win-win-win for the board, CEO's and the stock analysts. They don't give a damn what happens to the company.

    Now Mr. Hewlett and Packard, they wouldn't pull this sort of shit because it was their own baby.
    Founder of IBM had some pretty good rules too, they treated customers and employees _right_. But since he went, it's been all downhill (except for profits).
    • That'll happen.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by King_TJ (85913) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:08PM (#11855357) Journal
      It's not unlike Hollywood, where actors and actresses live in their own version of reality - pretty far removed from the daily lives most of us have.

      When you earn that type of money, and spend your time around peers that do the same, how can you expect them to see these screw-ups as a "big deal", really? Like you said, it's not their own business, built from the ground up - so they're not coming into things with that background of remembering how tough it was to build it.

      A lot of these big-wig corporate types pander more to such things as a peer "taking a big risk". They're going to say "Carly, that was a really bold move you made, merging with Compaq. Didn't really work out, but that's the type of thinking and attitude we like to see in a C.E.O.! I think we can find a new spot for you over here...."

      In many ways, I think they approach it like gambling. Sure, the rest of us can say "I can't believe that guy just plunked down a million dollars on the roulette table and lost it all. What a moron!" But if he's got the kind of money where that isn't going to put an end to his lifestyle, and his peers are equally rich gamblers, they're just going to cheer him on. They're thinking in the back of their heads that they're "way above" all those naysayers who aren't "successful enough" to even afford to take those types of risks.
    • Re:No one cares... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cgenman (325138) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @07:10PM (#11855739) Homepage
      In defense of AOL-Time Warner, If I were a traditional media bigwig and I had heard about upstart technology companies making billions (in investor dollars), an industry that was going to take over and destroy the traditional media, and I had no experience or knowledge of what they were talking about, I'd get a little scared and do something stupid too. AOL, on the other hand, probably knew they were lucking out and cashed the heck in.

      Now, it can certainly be argued that if someone is on the board of directors of a company that is about to approve such a foolish thing they're getting paid well to know about the technology etc. But few executives actually go down to the floor of their companies anymore, and more and more are losing the pulse of what is going on. They just "don't have time" to get a clue.

      CEO payoffs are rediculous. Carly was got roughly 3 million in salary last year. While in my mind a reasonable company would put this closer to 400k or less, 3 million is too high but not insane. But a 20 million payoff plus 20 million in additional benefits [softpedia.com] for running a company into the ground? That's 8 million dollars per year she was there. Giving a year's salary to help someone have time to find another job seems reasonable and just, but giving them 10 years of an already far-too-high salary for getting fired?

      All of this stands in stark contrast to what they're telling the people on the front lines. Carly's 3 million dollar salary would pay for 30 great engineers. Her giant golden parachute stands in direct contrast to the treatment of the workers HP laid off. How many of them got 10 years worth of salary? Or legal, financial, career counseling, a secratary, health insurance, a 200,000k dollar per year pension (after 5 years of service)? Or even got to keep their computer?

      Of course, if it was an HP computer it might not be worth keeping. But the point is that many CEO's have lost the ability to think about troop morale in any context, and certainly in the context of getting laid off. It's hard for people to hear that we need to cut corners from a person whose income is 95% disposable.

      It might be worth it for a big company to put out giant per year salaries to lure great CEO's to the top slot. But so far that strategy seems to have failed miserably.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:53PM (#11855287)
    I'm posting anonymously because my father works at HP and I have done some work for them and they continue to be a client of my company.

    Basically Carly's main failure was a total lack of vision. Her main changes were branding and cost-cutting. And in order to cover her major failing, she undertook the merger which would make success impossible to benchmark for about 3 years or so.

    There were also countless re-orgs which also serve to make goals impossible to benchmark. While re-branding HP 'Invent' she did her best to ensure that no actual inventing occured... tying HP closer to Microsoft and pushing the actual inventing to other vendors (the HP iPod anyone?) while trying to eck out a living on those thinner margins by cost-cutting.

    Now most business units are facing a 10% budget cut in order to finance Carly's kiss off. I don't need to say that morale is a huge issue and HP is largely rudderless (after being firmly steered in the wrong direction for so long this may be an improvment though)

    And there is talk of having her run the world bank. I suppose it is typical in the US this day and age to continuously reward failure as long as it's big enough (Bush, Rumsfeld, CIA, Condi etc.) so Carly fits that bill perfectly.

    The whole thing disgusts me really...
    • by Tangurena (576827) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:39PM (#11855555)
      I spent a while at the Colorado Springs facility of HP. The downsizing was ludicrous. Every Friday would be the last day of 5-100 people. Many folks wouldn't even show up to work on Fridays because they didn't want to have to say "good bye." Morale was that low.

      Routinely, the comments on the latest person to be laid off was "this person was the last person who knew how to [some technology or skill here]."

      All because Carly wanted a new bizjet. I guess the ashtrays on the old company jets were full, or the steward/stewardesses were too old/ugly or something. About $50,000,000 each for the new ones. You have to fire a lot of people to raise that sort of cash.

      Carly screwed HP big time. It will take a decade or more to rebuild and replace the desctuction of Her Incompetanceness. But as the above poster pointed out, we in the US only reward liars, crooks and idiots. Performance, skill and knowledge have been designated as enemy combatants and are busy being rounded up and destroyed everywhere.

  • by ewe2 (47163) <ewetoo AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:55PM (#11855295) Homepage Journal
    This is a damning indictment of the entire industry. And really, if the focus is on software patents, can that be such a shock?

    This is why the US software patent system must never be exported: if they want to nothing but sit on their arses and sue each other, let them. The rest of us have real work to do.
  • Oh Woe (Score:5, Informative)

    by d0wnr11g3r (593472) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:55PM (#11855301)
    HP has really gone downhill, and only picked up speed during the "Carly Years".

    I remember a time when their hardware was second to none, and their software and support were stellar to say the least. I'm serious when I say that I noticed the change in leadership almost as immediately as she took office - and I was just a consumer of their products. Their hardware started going up in price, but failed to move forward. Their software became more bug filled than the Amazon jungle, and their support, well, just stopped existing.

    One of the largest problems I saw was how they produced new versions of some of their software packages, writing Windows versions of packages that used to be strictly HP-UX native and then porting them back to HP-UX...this was at best a dumb idea and at worst resulted in programs advertised as being HP-UX native refusing to operate properly, especially anything with a GUI. Program crashes went from almost non-existant to an almost weekly if not daily occurance.

    To make matters worse the average hold time I spent on the phone went from less than 10 minutes to as much as 4 HOURS. I'm not making this up! And when you finally did get an engineer on the phone they mostly stalled for time because they knew they had no solution to a problem, or had too much to deal with. As we paid for our service agreement we expected to get prompt service and instead were left sitting for days, sometimes weeks while someone tried to resolve the issue, if it could be resolved. Even when told that issues were absolutely mission critical and costing us huge amounts of money and at times lost data due to failure we still did not notice any change in service.

    Like the author, my first calculator was an HP - I remembered being astounded by the ability to graph solutions and solve multi-variable equations. It was one of the first pieces of hardware I learned to program - I wrote a program to switch the in class TV channels back in High School. At one time, before Carly, I even wanted desperately to work for them....I'm glad I didn't.

    How Carly ever got into office on anything but her looks(which weren't much) will forever remain a mystery to me. How she was allowed to stay in her position for more than a few months is something I can only blame on investors not having a finger on the pulse of the company. Maybe HP will recover, but they've lost so much ground in recent years, I really can't see it happening.

    • by yukio (457122) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:57PM (#11855650)
      I swear that she and Celine Dion are really one and the same person.

      With about the same abilities in their respective fields.
    • Re:Oh Woe (Score:3, Insightful)

      by adam872 (652411)
      I agree with most of what you say, apart from the smart arse remark about her getting the job because of her looks. Carly Fiorina is a very adept saleswoman and *that* is what got her the job at HP. For all her faults, she must have made a significant enough impression with the HP board with her performance at Lucent to be at least considered. In spite of the lefty rantings of many Slashdot pundits, most chief executives are not straight out of Dilbert or Office Space. A good many of them are actually quite
  • Google Anybody (Score:3, Interesting)

    by timealterer (772638) <slashdot@NoSpam.alteringtime.com> on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:58PM (#11855313) Homepage
    Google goes out of its way to spend a significant percentage of its time on technology that is innovative first, that they don't know yet how to make profitable. Google News and just about all the stuff in Google Labs only cost them money, but they're smart enough to think longer term than that.
    • Re:Google Anybody (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:18PM (#11855416)
      The difference here is that with Google, the original founders of the company are still in control and thus they have a personal stake in the company (not just financially as its still their "baby"). The other companies that have been mentioned in these discussions, the orginal founders are no longer in control (bit hard to keep control when your dead), and there have been management "drones" put in place. You know the type, completely interchangable between industries because all they care about is the pseudo-science of managment which all boils down to maximise the profits at the end of the quarter. But of course the reason that these management drones can exist is the fact that once a company lists, everything becomes about profit for the quarter. Thus if upper management is just worried about a maximum of 3 months out, all long term thinking/planning is banished as it will most likely have a negative impact on the next quarters results (resulting in a negative impact on the management drones performance -> reduced bonus for them).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @05:59PM (#11855321)
    I'm not too impressed with the way that the food division [hpfoods.com] is heading either.

    Dammit, what about open sauce?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:00PM (#11855326)
    The article's rather short with very very little details. It does should like a rant, however, there's probably truth in it.

    He's description of research is pretty accurate:"doesn't have immediate results", "expensive and unpredictable". He is also correct in implying that research is important and often overlooked.

    It's a shame that HP has turned out the way it is. It does really seem that its glory days are over. When Carly departed, it was reported that it's not because of her vision which clashed with the directors, but her execution. So, I suppose, HP is going to be like this in the forseeable future. Something drastic's got to be done.

    A lesson learnt from the article: Do not let someone with no appreciation of tech manage a tech firm.
  • by maynard (3337) <j DOT maynard DO ... AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:01PM (#11855332) Journal
    But I like this quote:

    "Bill Hewlett used to remind us that "The marketing guys said the HP-35 would be a failure because it was too small, and then we couldn't make them fast enough to meet the demand. The marketing folks don't know everything."

    Because it was too small. Talk about misreading a market. Computing became ubiquitous entirely because of continuing miniaturization. Of course marketers would argue that they've now learned their lesson. They won't make that mistake again! No. They'll make some other ridiculous mistake. Not because they're stupid people, but because they don't understand current technology limitations and how trends imply change upon those limitations. Presumably, those former marketers thought "bigger meant better". Bigger cars were "better", right? They didn't see the potential utility of a pocket calculator, just as some will miss the utility of some other invention or advancement.

    Marketing is fine as a tool for finding products people want. But it's useless for determining if a completely new technology might create or revolutionize a market. See the Dyson vacuum cleaner [salon.com] as another example of marketers misreading how new technology might completely change a mature market. Marketing works best only after the marketers understand a technology and its limitations, in coordination with traditional market analysis. Not prior. --M
    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:28PM (#11855483)
      And now HPs calculators from the 70's and 80's sell for hundreds of dollars on EBay, while their current flagship product is a bug ridden POS with a bad keyboard. It's not only a matter of lack of interest at the fundamental R&D level, but a policy of making it as cheaply as possible, regardless of the quality level the market really wants. It is sickening to see the current product, feel the tacky keyboard and the gaudy painted plastic shell that the paint chips off easily and read reports of keypress detection problems, while that 25 year old model has keys that still work perfectly, with no sign of wear on key labels.

      Marketing is fine as a tool for finding products people want. But it's useless for determining if a completely new technology might create or revolutionize a market.

      Marketing is much, much worse than that in a technology driven company because the marketers do not understand even the current products and how they are used.

    • Bigger cars were "better", right?

      Were? A lot of people still believe that crap. In part this is due to Detroit's misleading statistics that in front impact collisions a larger vehicle is safer. What they fail to tell you is that if you hadn't been in such a large vehicle to start with chances are you would never have been a collision! Smaller cars have much better handling, much shorter break distances and less likelihood of roll over. Just read the stats, for example if you drive an SUV you are much mo
  • by perrin (891) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:05PM (#11855346)
    After ruining HP, the Bush administration has suggested her for rui^H^Hnning the World Bank. Read it here [siliconvalley.com]. 'Top executives' like herself like to tell us that they need their huge salaries because they take such risks, and if they screw up they are done in the business. Yeah, right. The truth is, it doesn't matter how much they screw up, their own will take care of them anyway.
    • It is worth pointing out that this isn't Carly's first debacle, she also drove Lucent into the ground. That's a mighty impressive record, destroying not only the company that made the transistor, but also one of the first companies to put it to good use. I think Bush sees alot of himself in Carly. Remember he had two failed business ventures, Spectrum 7 and Harken Energy. Harken bailed him out at Spectrum, and some skillful insider trading netted him a profit out of the second (it's not only good to be a Ki
    • If I recall rightly HPs market cap went up by 2 billion dollars the day she left. In other words (if we're going to justify everything by share price as many CEOs like Ms. Fiorina do) she was worth negative $2 billion to HP. Do they get to bill her for damage done? Nope, they pay her a nice $20 million leaving bonus. Why would anyone hire someone who managed to decrease a companies worth by $2 billion? I'm at a loss. Her career should be over (and with a $20 million dollar bonus to walk away with, it'
  • by xtal (49134) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:07PM (#11855350)
    If you don't understand your own products, you are going to suck as a leader. I don't care what the current nonsense is, but that's something I really believe - perhaps it explains the success of lawyers as politicians?

    This is a theme you see in education all the time - you don't need to understand or have a degree in, oh, say physics in order to teach physics. Yeah, right. You can't teach something you don't understand at a fundamental level.

    This goes to show that people with pure business backgrounds are not automatically assumed success in any field. Mr. Hewlett and Packard made wonderful products, by and for engineers. You can see it clear as day in what they produced. I love my HP48 calculator. I own oscilloscopes and function generators made by HP that dates back to the 70's and the gear still works flawlessly and looks great.

    Watch for intel to make the same kind of mistakes - the best leaders for tech companies are those with BOTH business acumen and technical backgrounds.

    Hopefully this Carly FIASCO will scare some brains into those who make the big decisions, but maybe I'm just dreaming. Short term profits, damn the cost!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Sorry, you're wrong. Companies need leaders with a clue. That's it.

      I work for IBM. Lou Gerstner, a hick from some tobacco/foods conglomerate came in and saved our bacon. A lot of the old timers curse his name, we're still settling a lot of pension disputes, but there is no doubt he saved IBM. We are the premier technology company in the world. I work on a project that originated in a research lab. I feel like my company has taken the "Engineering" mantle away from HP, even though we are traditionally led b
  • Patnets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argoff (142580) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @06:10PM (#11855361)
    I think in a normal world. people would collaberate and fund raise to do RnD - their creations would gain them value and reputation, and that would lead to new opportunities. But we don't live in a normal world, we live in a patent world - a world where companies receive vast rewards for cutting off other companies from new tchnologies. A world where those little inventors (who patents are supposed to help) are premanately locked out.

    Yeah, I know the "party line" that one that says no big companies will invent without patent monopolies, but just look at how many items in the average kitchen were really invented by a big company (hint none). Look at the electricity, phone, the PC, the radio, and so on .... (no big companies). I think if people kicked patents the hell out of they way they'd be supprised what happens. It would free up millions of inventions, to millions more inventors, and create a sunami of economic growth and technology. The fact that inventions can be coppied should be treated like a opportunity, not a threat, or even worse a theft. Patents monopolies (and I mean all of them, not just software) simply half to die and calling them
    intellectual "property" is simply fradulent.
    • Re:Patents (Score:3, Informative)

      by psykocrime (61037)
      Yeah, I know the "party line" that one that says no big companies will invent without patent monopolies, but just look at how many items in the average kitchen were really invented by a big company (hint none). Look at the electricity, phone, the PC, the radio, and so on .... (no big companies). I think if people kicked patents the hell out of they way they'd be supprised what happens. It would free up millions of inventions, to millions more inventors, and create a sunami of economic growth and technology.

  • Slashdot is powerful! On Tuesday I complained about Carly Fiorina in a Slashdot comment [slashdot.org], and on Wednesday she was fired [google.com]. (See the 6th paragraph of the comment, and the subsequent comment.)
  • It's about profits, not what the customers want

    That seems to sum up the "new HP". Before they were pretty much doing thier own thing making specialized computers, test equipment and some damn fine laser printers.

    Now 2/3 of thier profits come from ink and toner sales, thier systems are very unsupported, I know I just talked to a really friendly techie from India who couldn't answer my problem (I have just discovered are due to thier thier latest BIOS...grrr).

    From what I saw when I booted this machine is that HP is cozying up to any company with money: Microsoft (XP, only XP), Apple (iPod), Symantic, AOL and other services (spyware/adware/Internet/etc). They seem to be using thier PCs hard drive capacity for garnering advertising, tie-in and lock-in revenue.

    Certainly sounds like HP has been reduced to a me-too company, they should expand into the ringtone business, I hear there are big bux there now.

  • Agilent may prosper (Score:4, Interesting)

    by laing (303349) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @07:13PM (#11855761)
    Fortunately Carly spun off the test and measurement instrument group into "Agilent". They have always produced the best instrumentation in the industry and continue to do so. It's a shame that they've lost the HP name, but they are still a top notch company.
  • Wasn't very popular (Score:5, Informative)

    by Creamsickle (792801) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @07:22PM (#11855799)
    I worked at HP making drivers and whatnot several years ago. I was there at the time Carly took over until about a year or two afterwards. I can tell you from my experience at HP that she was quite unpopular among the employees, at least around the time I left. A big part of Fiorina getting the axe I am sure is not only because of stock performance, but because she took so much away from the family that was HP and showed nothing positive for it.

    Before she took over, the company was very family-oriented, as you would expect since it was family-owned. I loved going to work because I realized that the kind of work atmosphere we had at HP was very rare. There were a couple of policies that employees somewhat questioned that were family-oriented, for instance having to take a mandatory day off, I believe it was every couple weeks. Obviously there were a few grumbles from some over losing money since they could be working. But overall looking past specific policies, there was an overall feeling of appreciation for the top of HP management for creating such a caring work environment. There was just an atmosphere there that didn't just appear overnight, it was the result of careful planning by those in upper management.

    Folks loved working at HP, and it showed in the turnover rate, which was stunningly low. This was worn as a badge of pride by the company.

    Enter Carly Fiorina. Look at this turnover rate, it's terrible! We need it to go way up, to cycle new people and new ideas in! Day off every two weeks, that's ridiculous, let's get rid of that as well as cut back paid vacation and benefits to help push up the turnover rate! Firings, and resignations sure did lead to a higher turnover rate. HP stopped being HP. Instead of being a very special place to work for, it was suddenly Just Another Corporation. I left a little later, not with the new company environment as the reason, but at that point I was not sad to say goodbye.

    The thing is, Carly took that spirit away from the company, she took away that something very special about HP that made it a privilige to work there, all the while promising results that never materialized. Had HP skyrocketed, few would have complained, but no - she took all these intangibles away, and all the company had to show for it was poor performance. She was a poor leader and a bad decision-maker. The Compaq thing and lack of results afterwards was just the straw that broke the camel's back.
  • by xs650 (741277) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @07:29PM (#11855831)
    Carly wasn't the root source of problem, the boneheads that hired her and let her run the company into the toilet were and are the problem.

    • Damn Straight! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DesScorp (410532) <.DesScorp. .at. .Gmail.com.> on Saturday March 05, 2005 @11:22PM (#11857022) Homepage Journal
      " Carly wasn't the root source of problem, the boneheads that hired her and let her run the company into the toilet were and are the problem."

      You're pointing out what everyone else seems to be missing; the board of directors backed Aunt Carly, even against the son of one of the founders. They knew full well her business plan was the slash and burn the place and turn it into an IBM-Dell hybrid wannabee. They approved all the way, and fought on her side during the Compaq aquisition.

      Good on them for firing her, but if they give a shit about HP and want to own up to their mistake, their next actions should be mass resignations, and an invitation to Walter Hewlett to lead the new board of directors.
  • by Linuxathome (242573) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @07:30PM (#11855843) Homepage Journal
    "a good idea comes from many ideas." It sounds like Carly Fiorina does not truly understand how research and development is funded. If an exec comes in thinking that all ideas and prototypes that come out of the lab must have an economical payout, then they will commit innovation suicide. Give a little slack and allow the engineers and researchers do what they do best -- create. If you make them worry about their job or their wallet, then that's wasted brain energy that could have been put to good use for creativity.

    Some venture capitalists (which I think Carly was before joining HP) truly understand the nature of the beast, which is why we often hear about companies, crazy ideas, or projects the VCs back that should have never had funding in the first place. Fund lots of ideas, one of them will be a great one.
  • New slogan (Score:3, Funny)

    by bsandersen (835481) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @07:34PM (#11855861) Homepage
    After seeing the iPod in an HP box I realized their new slogan was:

    HP: relabel

  • by JRHelgeson (576325) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @09:18PM (#11856442) Homepage Journal
    Carly may have killed innovation at HP, but it doesn't mean that innovation in America has been killed - just pushed back to the garage.

    There has been a truism that is as true today as when it was coined back in the early 1800's: Americans invent as the French paint, or the Italians sculpt.

    It is our nature to innovate. If it is not happening at Lucent, HP or wherever, it will revert back to the garage where countless American innovations have started. Analysts that look to HP and Lucent (Bell Labs) for innovation in the future are sure to be blind-sided by the invention they didn't see coming from some garage or shed somehwere in this great land of ours.
    • I applaud the parent's emotional center on the subject, but disagree with this statement:

      t is our nature to innovate. If it is not happening at Lucent, HP or wherever, it will revert back to the garage where countless American innovations have started. Analysts that look to HP and Lucent (Bell Labs) for innovation in the future are sure to be blind-sided by the invention they didn't see coming from some garage or shed somehwere in this great land of ours.

      I'm of the opinion that most of the real basic st

      • I'm of the opinion that most of the real basic stuff is done. It's going to take Huge Sums Of Money and Large Professional Staffs of Very Smart People to really kick over the next cycle of innovation.

        Example: software. Sure: anyone can code stuff, but most of the simple things have been done. I'm sure someone in a garage somewhere will eventually find that one or two points ofentry, but most of the big innovations are going to come at very great expense with large teams of people - some doing programming,
  • by GrassyKnowl (547325) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @09:52PM (#11856597)
    Here is a better link to a very critical evaluation of Fiorina as CEO of HP.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Business/SiliconInsider/stor y?id=88655&page=1 [go.com]
  • by midnight2038 (848433) on Saturday March 05, 2005 @11:19PM (#11857006)
    The Carly disease is endemic in America and I'm glad I will be long gone when we follow the path of the Roman Empire. It started a long time before she got there but obviously she is a iconic model of a great many powerful players, otherwise she would have never made it in the first place. Todays business model is exactly that told by the unnamed engineer. Sell, exploit or kill the brain pool by purchasing modest lack luster competitors who sell crappy products but have needed patents.

    The 5 year ramp up time of new product development is fast becoming just a dream. I work in RD. Management complains about our average age of 55 years. Unfortunately the majority of younger recruits with new degrees take as much as ten years to develop common sense and work ethics let alone a working vocabulary.

    The real problems are deeply embedded in our society and educational system. Even though our productivity remains the highest in the world, time is running out. In twenty years the leaders will be China and India. The US will become a Third World Nation with Nukes.
    • Do you only have your vet engineers and a bunch of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed kids? I would figure you'd have everything in between too... bring in young talent, get them experience and train them up. The good ones coming into their own as the old ones retire to tinker in their garage.

      The rot can be in engineer core too....

      My dad was a great tool engineer at Boeing (with it was owned by MacD&D before that). He was brilliant at finding ways to save that companie's butts. But there were engineers

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