HP’s Fiorina Ousted; CFO Steps In

The chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard resigns under pressure from the board; CFO Robert Wayman will serve as interim chief executive.
Stephen TaubFebruary 9, 2005

Carly Fiorina has resigned as chairman and chief executive officer of the Hewlett-Packard Co., effective immediately, under pressure from the company’s board of directors. In a statement, she cited differences with the board “about how to execute HP’s strategy.”

Chief financial officer Robert Wayman has been named chief executive officer on an interim basis and was also appointed to the board of directors. The 36-year veteran of the company — he joined HP in 1969 as a cost accountant and was named finance chief in 1984 — will retain his CFO responsibilities.

Patricia Dunn, a director since 1998, has been named non-executive chairman of the board, also effective immediately.

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“Carly Fiorina came to HP to revitalize and reinvigorate the company,” said Dunn, in a statement. “She had a strategic vision and put in place a plan that has given HP the capabilities to compete and win. We thank Carly for her significant leadership over the past six years as we look forward to accelerating execution of the company’s strategy.”

Before joining Hewlett-Packard in 1999, Fiorina spent 20 years at AT&T and Lucent Technologies and is credited with spearheading Lucent’s 1996 initial public offering and subsequent spin-off from AT&T. She has been under fire lately, however, for her decision to buy Compaq Computer in 2002. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that HP’s directors were mulling a management reorganization that would result in Fiorina relinquishing some day-to-day responsibilities.

Since joining HP as its first outside CEO, Fiorina is credited with consolidating the company’s 83 business units to just a handful, aggressively cutting costs, and pulling off the $19 billion Compaq acquisition despite heavy opposition, especially from Hewlett-Packard family members.

In November the company reported that compared with the prior year, fiscal 2004 net income had surged 38 percent, to $3.5 billion, on a 9 percent rise in revenue, to $80 billion.

Even so, the Journal pointed out, the company’s personal computer line continues to lose market share to Dell Inc., and its corporate-computing unit is struggling against the likes of IBM and EMC Corp. The printer business — which was very strong before the Compaq merger — remains one of its few bright spots.