Friday, October 01, 2010

Nonexecutive Chairman?

For any folks out there who have had the unfortunate pleasure of being around or even periphierally involved in an enterprise undergoing conversion to a SAP software product, you may be as surprised as I was to hear that Hewlett-Packard has named the ex-chief of SAP, Léo Apotheker, as the company’s new chief executive.  This will be most interesting.  It was also announced that Ray Lane, a managing partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and a former Oracle executive, was named to H-P’s board and will serve as non-executive chairman.

So....Mark Hurd was let go by Hewlett Packard due to some sloppy travel expense padding issues and then is shortly thereafter picked up by Oracle to be their co-president, a surprise to most folks in the know.  Then, HP picks up an ex-Oraclite, Ray Lane, to be a non-excutive chairman.?

Hmmmm.     The stock market reacted to the news of Apotheker (German for pharmacist) reacts by dropping H-P's stock 3 percent to $40.82 in after-hours trading.   I didn't really understand the non-executive chairman bit at first.   Now, it's all too clear.  If Apotheker's business chemistry doesn't produce immediate results with HP's previous success run or with Wall Street's perception of the company's success, Mr. Lane is the chief executive in the boardroom easily in place to replace the ex-SAP now Hewlett-Packard CEO.

Well, that most certainly must make Mr. Apotheker feel all warm and fuzzy.  He served a mere 7 months as CEO @ SAP (after working there over 20 years) before being removed from that position.   Seems that H-P is playing it safe in case his stay is equally short or shorter @ H-P.   You've got to be even a tad empathetic with Mr. Apotheker's Damocles Sword position; may he have at least some restful sleep in the coming year.


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