Apotheker Out: Another Hewlett-Packard CEO Is Gone

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Ryan Anson/ Bloomberg News

Leo Apotheker at a March press conference

Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker may be ousted by the company’s board of directors after less than a year on the job and may be replaced – at least on an interim basis — by ex eBay CEO Meg Whitman, according to Bloomberg News

The report, which cites two unidentified sources, is hardly a shock. Under his watch, shares of the venerable tech company have tumbled 47% and Apotheker has further infuriated Wall Street by slashing sales forecasts three times. Then there’s the high-profile flop of its TouchPad tablet computer, which sold poorly until HP cut the price to the fire sale price of $99.

Shares of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company rallied on the Bloomberg report, underscoring how widely Apotheker is disliked on Wall Street, at least compared with Whitman, who joined H-P’s board in January after losing the gubernatorial race in California to Jerry Brown. As Bloomberg notes, Whitman’s track record at eBay was mixed – she successfully grew the pioneering online auctioneer from its pre-IPO days, but also oversaw a period of sluggish growth and “overpaid” for Skype .

Still, Whitman may be have the right skill sets to bring calm to H-P, which has been rocked by uncertainty under Apotheker.  Investors are still trying to digest some of his recent moves including his decision to spin-off its Personal Systems Group, which includes PCs, and spend $10 billion to acquire business software maker Autonomy.  Apotheker also changed his mind on putting the WebOS mobile operating system onto the company’s computers, five months after announcing a plan to do it.

Apotheker came to H-P after the board ousted his successor Mark Hurd for having an inappropriate relationship with a female contractor and submitting inaccurate expense reports to conceal his relationship. Hurd soon landed on his feet at Oracle Corp., where outspoken CEO Larry Ellison said he was left speechless by Apotheker’s hiring and suggested that the H-P board resign en masse immediately.

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