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How to Kill the World's Biggest Technology Company

Last Updated Aug 31, 2011 11:41 AM EDT

Occasionally I read a story so good, so amusing, I've got to riff on it here. H-P's One-Year Plan from Al Lewis and the Wall Street Journal, is priceless. Here's a somewhat amended version:

If you were given a year - just a year - to kill HP, the world's biggest technology company, here's how you'd do it:

Fire Mark Hurd, the only competent CEO the company's had in years who executed one of the most successful turnarounds ever, over a sex scandal that never happened.

Publicly can four board directors over the Hurd fiasco.

Shock the hell out of everyone by hiring Leo Apotheker as the new chief, even though he'd been fired by SAP for nearly unraveling the software giant, inspiring Oracle CEO Larry Ellison to say, "The HP board needs to resign en masse ... right away. The madness must stop."

Push the only executives who know what they're doing out the door.

Spark criticism from a big corporate governance watchdog firm by filling the open board seats with Apotheker cronies.

Blow through cash reserves and buy back stock like drunken sailors ahead of a global recession.

Buy Palm for its operating system (WebOS), promise to put WebOS on everything from smartphones and tablets to PCs and printers, launch new smartphone and tablet products with WebOS, then pull the plug on those products and the whole WebOS PROGRAM less than two months later.

Announce plans to acquire a billion dollar software company for $10 billion, then tell everyone it's the centerpiece of your new corporate strategy.

Telegraph plans to sell or spinoff your $41 billion personal systems group over the next 12 to 18 months, making HP PCs lame ducks in the market. Never mind that HP spent the last 10 years becoming the world's #1 PC maker. One analyst describes the move as "like McDonald's getting out of the hamburger business."

Raise your financial targets, twice. Miss them, twice.

Act like Wall Street just doesn't get it when your stock plunges 40%; go out on the road and tell everyone this is all part of a grand plan to transform HP from the world's biggest technology company into a second rate software firm, a distant number five in the market behind IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP.

    Yup, it's been one helluva year since HP fired Mark Hurd. Just when you thought a board couldn't be more incompetent than the folks that brought you Enron, WorldCom, and Yahoo - that's right, I'm never going to let the Jerry Yang thing go, never - now we've got HP's board to kick around.

    You just can't make this stuff up.


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