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HP: Article

Apotheker Fingers HP Chairman Ray Lane, Board

HP’s ousted CEO also told Bloomberg that HP is still afflicted with the problems he tried to fix

HP’s ousted CEO Leo Apotheker, who’s taken the heat for the company’s disastrous Autonomy acquisition, ain’t gonna take the fall alone.

He told Bloomberg Friday that Ray Lane, HP’s non-executive chairman, a partner at Kleiner Perkins and an ex-Oracle president, shares the blame along with the HP board at the time – but particularly Lane.

“No single CEO is ever able to make a decision on a major acquisition in isolation, particularly at a company as large as HP – and certainly not without the full support of the chairman of the board,” Apotheker said in a statement e-mailed to the news service. “The HP board, led by its chairman, met many times to review the acquisition and unanimously supported the deal, as well as the underlying strategic objective to bolster HP’s market presence in enterprise data.”

Apotheker hasn’t said anything since after HP announced an $8.8 billion write-down connected with the $11.1 billion acquisition last month and accused Autonomy’s management of cooking the books to get HP to overpay. HP said more than $5 billion of the charge was due to “serious accounting improprieties” at the British software company.

At the same time, Apotheker’s replacement Meg Whitman said that the people who had brought the broken company to this pretty pass – Apotheker and former CTO, Shane Robinson, the head of strategy who ran M&A – had been flushed out of HP.

Whitman and all but one person were on the board when the Autonomy acquisition was agreed. She has tried to distance herself and the rest of the board from the fatal decision.

HP’s board is generally regarded as the worst around and the company’s stock has plummeted a whopping 69% since CEO Mark Hurd was dismissed in August of 2010.

Apotheker also told Bloomberg that HP is still afflicted with the problems he tried to fix by expanding into software, dumping webOS and suggesting that the PC unit would be spun off.

That announcement last year stunned everyone, trashed HP’s stock and led to Apotheker’s dismissal a few weeks later.

“Looking back on my time at HP, I still believe the strategic vision that we tried to implement was sound,” he said. “HP was and still is in need of a transformational strategy,” including a push into software and a review of the company’s “decades-old” PC business, Apotheker said.

Despite the write-off, Whitman and Lane have stood behind Autonomy’s technology, which “pleased” Apotheker.

“Unfortunately, I was never given the opportunity to implement the strategy in its totality,” he said. “The new leadership has now been in place longer than my 11-month tenure. But it’s clear that HP still is in search of the right path forward.”

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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