Thursday, September 7, 2006

Hewlett Packard Needs to Ask For Another Resignation

Where to look for a Hewlett or a Packard when you need one? Scan the Board of Directors and you’ll find nary a trace of a founder. Nor the scion of a founder or even a third cousin. Nary a trace of two formerly prominent members either, one who was summarily dismissed and another who quit in protest. Protest and fury.

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Where to look for a Hewlett or a Packard when you need one? Scan the Board of Directors and you’ll find nary a trace of a founder. Nor the scion of a founder or even a third cousin. Nary a trace of two formerly prominent members either, one who was summarily dismissed and another who quit in protest. Protest and fury.
The printer-ink hit the fan in the past several days, as a scandal worthy of ‘Dallas’ splattered itself all over the corporate wall.
Hewlett needs to fire its Chairwoman of the Board, a very tough yet perhaps not ethically developed woman by the name of Patricia C. Dunn. Dunn as in done. It would be hard to work out a scenario where she didn’t follow Carleton Fiorina in a smashing drop back down through the glass ceiling to the ash-heap out back of headquarters.
Damon Darlin at the New York Times reports Ms. Dunn wanted to restore the trust among the board members — a trust that had been tested as the company went through three years of infighting, beginning with a proxy fight over its acquisition of Compaq Computer.
Her method of restoring that trust wasn’t to sit down with her nine fellow-members to work things out, which is what boards do. Rather, Dunn set private investigators on the trail of member's phone records, like some sleazy divorce-lawyer.
Hewlett’s stock price as well as its reputation will have to withstand (another) veritable blossoming of golden-parachutes as various big-shots within the company are ‘agreeably let go’ instead of fired for cause, which would bring messy lawsuits.
Hpgeorgekeyworth The fired Board Member, George Keyworth, admitted being the source of the leak and refused to resign, saying if he had been asked, he’d have readily admitted the fact.
But the man who is really steamed and the only Board Member with either guts enough or a net worth sufficient to stand the departure, is Tom Perkins. Perkins was (and perhaps is) a good friend of Keyworth.
Tom was unavailable, cruising the Mediterranean on his new $100 million 287-foot yacht, the Maltese Falcon. No way Dallas could do justice to this script.
Hewlett asked their in-house legal-eagles to run down the leaker, never a good idea. In-house is almost never impartial and always has its own axe to grind. Wagging their tails with eagerness, they promptly hired a consultant who hired a consultant and then everyone went to lunch.
Hpthomasperkins The consultant’s consultant used a form of subterfuge known as “pretexting,” or false pretenses, to obtain the directors’ official phone records.  As a result, Mr. Perkins’ records were hacked.
Not a good idea to hack the phone records of a guy with a $100 million yacht.
The phone company said that someone had tricked an AT&T service representative into revealing the multidigit code that would allow a person to set up an online account for access to billing statements. The account was created using the last four digits of Mr. Perkins’s Social Security number, and his January bill was viewed.
Ah, yes. One can only presume that Patricia Dunn is a long way past ‘oops.’
Hewlett-Packard said it intended to cooperate fully with the criminal investigation. In legal-speak, that means it’s time to shove some serious numbers across tables, trying by any means feasible to avoid an open court. The California Attorney General is hip deep in this one and Hewlett, the most wiling corporation in the country to hire women in the top jobs, has been burned again.
And George Bush thinks he has trouble.
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