Feeds

back to article HP confirms job cuts will hit research labs

HP has confirmed that yesterday's announcement of UK job cuts will not just hit its manufacturing plant in Scotland, but also HP's research laboratories in Bristol. The firm will not detail exactly what is happening, but emails from Register readers suggest as many as half its Bristol research staff could be laid off. A Reg …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Silver badge
Unhappy

Sad race to the bottom

Sadly HP is no longer an innovation strong house nor is it the sort of company one would choose to work for, in fact, it is more of a Dell than Dell. Used to respect their products but now see them as no better than the cheaper far-east competition. So why bother buying from them?

I doubt Bill & Dave would chose HP now :(

0
0
Dan
Unhappy

A sad day

That was the first place I worked after my Masters, great days. Unfortunately they weren't willing to invest in research properly, things were already going down with Carly at the helm. Can you say short term thinking.

Still, I enjoyed the day we went surfing on a whim since the weather looked good in Wales.

0
0
Silver badge

Take your Pick and Feel around in the Dense Cloud Layers.

"HP said: "HP Labs is streamlining its research portfolio to further sharpen its focus on creating a pipeline of high-impact innovation with a clear path to market that addresses the most important customer challenges. HP is committed to bringing breakthrough innovation to market quickly, and HP Labs will continue to play a significant role in this effort.""

Which tells everyone nothing about anything in the pipeline, which might mean that they have a breakthrough innovation or they have diddly squat novel and significant.

0
0
Joke

Geez

"HP said: "HP Labs is streamlining its research portfolio to further sharpen its focus on creating a pipeline of high-impact innovation with a clear path to market that addresses the most important customer challenges. HP is committed to bringing breakthrough innovation to market quickly, and HP Labs will continue to play a significant role in this effort." "

I'm sure this one has been done with this: http://www.dack.com/web/bullshit.html

0
0
Bronze badge

Bill & Dave

if Bill & Dave could see HP now, they would climb out of their graves and stab Hurd.

0
0
Thumb Down

Re: Sad race to the bottom

Couldn't agree more PC - HP _used_ to be known as a cutting edge company producing innovative, well-engineered products. Now they're like K-Mart but with Sachs 5th Av aspirations.

So basically IBM do it 'cleverer' and Dell do it 'cheaper', where does that leave HP? I guess with those folks who either want something a little better designed than Dell, but cheaper than Big Blue. Not a niche that I'd be comfortable in.

I'm not sure I'm happy with the more "Dell than Dell" comment though - didn't Dell use 'captive labor' - i.e. penitentiary inmates? Maybe this is where their outsourcing is leading - to folks who can't complain about crap pay or lousy conditions.

It's a crying shame to see a once-great company laid low by the small minds at the top.

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be...

0
0
Alert

Streamlining

"HP said: "HP Labs is streamlining its research portfolio to further sharpen its focus on creating a pipeline of high-impact innovation with a clear path to market that addresses the most important customer challenges. HP is committed to bringing breakthrough innovation to market quickly, and HP Labs will continue to play a significant role in this effort.""

Baloney.

First long term research labs never can do things 'quickly' - look at inkjet, look at displays, look at quantum computing. It takes time and talent. Another auto generated journo-supression piece from HP.

Banerjee (HPL Director) has something against Bristol - hardly ever seen there, certainly never ever understood the tech or the business context - and another requirement to cut costs has given him an excuse to slash and burn.

A prediction - the infrastructure lab will die in 6 months and the security lab (world class - and no, I don't work there or for HP) will get sold of to the highest bidder (who will promptly sell back the tech to HP at inflated prices)

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Race to the bottom? Not far to go now....

HP's quality has been going downhill for the past few years. This is just another nail in the coffin. All the best guys are either gone or hidden behind a wall of incompetance and/or ignorance. Its a shame really - I used to really like HP.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Retrenching

A little sad really - HP Labs is doomed in Europe (near term) and US (medium term). Why bother with a long term research organisation (reorganised to do stuff that can be delivered tomorrow) when you have very capable 'near to market' R&D groups in the divisions?

0
0
Thumb Down

HP Invent

When did HP drop the 'invent' in the logo? Part of the sorry story of HPL?

0
0
Thumb Down

Very Sad

I spent many happy years working for HP, which included visiting the Bristol facility occasionally. That was in the good old days when they treated employees with a great deal of respect, and were paid back by those employees looking after the customers who thought so highly of the company. Not any more. I find it immensely sad that a company built upon such a solid foundation could be even contemplating this move of taking the axe to Bristol, let alone be carrying it out.

The Pinewood facility was a respected software lab which was set up in the same general timeframe as the Bristol factory. That was in the good old days of 20+ years ago when HP were a market leader in every sense of the word. Us "old timers" were proud to work for the company. We lived the dream which Bill and Dave put together. And where's Pinewood today? It was sold off to Johnson-and-Johnson after being shut down by HP in recent years. The dream has become a nightmare - cue the axeman.

HP became tainted goods around 1990 when Bill and Dave hung up their clogs. The bean counters moved their caravans onto the parking lot, and it's been a consistent ride downhill all the way since.

Glad I got out when I did. Otherwise I'm sure my name would have been on one of the tickets marked "job exported to cheap faraway place where they provide support that no-one likes".

Mark Hurd might be seen as turning things around, but sadly he's just a bean counter who will leave his post with HP a shadow of its former self.

Someone needs to have a word with the Dolly the Sheep scientists to see whether it might be possible to re-invent Bill and Dave.

0
0
Flame

Beancounters worst nightmare

Since a while,

beancounters not only _are_ the problem of hp, they even have problems themselves.

No matter how they tweak and twist the numbers, how hard they try to beautify their Excel sheets, they never make the numbers Mark Hurd wants to see.

So the folks from the ivory tower take any action now, no matter how useless or freaking' stupid ith might be, to generate some short term positive effect.

Just make the quarter, no matter how, there is no life after the quarter.

Long term planning, thinking and strategy? Only until it's bonus time. It's the quarter, that counts.

Wouldn't even be surprised if they shut off power for the datacenters. Just to "save costs".

hp marketing message then:" We're the most green company on earth. We're doing business math now with an Abacus.

0
0
Thumb Down

The HP Abucus

That'll be the Reverse Polish Notation abacus then. You know the one - with square balls which have been superglued to the rails.

Totally agree about the "no life after the end of the quarter" statement made earlier. When HP went into a recession when Bill and Dave were at the helm I recall that one of Dave's many positive statements was that when a company like HP goes into a recession, that's the time to make the investments in R&D. And his reasoning was simple. Every other company is going to start trimming and chopping to try and make its numbers, and recessions always comes to an end - and that's the time when customers are in a buying mood to have new products. Packard was a business genius, and I haven't seen any of those hanging around in HP these last 20 years.

Plus, if you don't look after the smartest people then they will be the ones who find a position elsewhere, and you are left with the also-rans. Now to be fair, the quality of people that HP took on back then was always consistently high so the also-rans were the sought-afters for other companies.

Pity that HP has forgotten the basics of how it got to be where it used to be. They are hurtling down at a rate of knots and they don't seem to realise it. Short-termism is the problem there. Hurd needs to get a pair of decent long range specs - though that's not in his personal interests because he's working on the plan to feather his nest with a massive pension pot, and leave someone else to take over the mess. Unlike the John Youngs of yesterday (Young was CEO when Bill and Dave were in charge), the heads of state at the top of HP aren't in it for the long term.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Stop Prithzilla!

Mark Hurd is taking a lot of the heat in the comments here, but maybe he's the right guy for tough times. It isn't Mark that's pushing to bring "innovation to market quickly". Asked about his "degree of patience with research", Mark replies, "extremely long... we do want speed, but getting a crummy capability to market fast isn't going to change HP." Mark employs Prith as his ideas man; his interface to HP Labs, and this is where it all starts to fall apart. Prith's academic background has not prepared him for the subtleties of industrial research; the job is simply too big for him. In know for a fact that EVERY HP lab that was 'terminated' yesterday had a game changing vision of the future that complements and extends the work of HP divisions. The sad fact is that Prith doesn't even understand what he has destroyed. Despite the fact that I was WFRd yesterday for no good reason, I'm not going to cynically diss HP out of anger. HP still has great people, and really does have some amazing products in the pipeline. Mark - Shane - whoever is listening - please stop the wanton destruction of labs by this Prithzilla - we've lost too much HP value already.

0
0

Pigs

It is not just HP cutting R&D, bunch of other "high" tech companies are doing it too. The corporate management pigs are finally cutting the roots of the tree. For a minor cut in the dividend or their compensation package, they could keep hundreds of R&D engineers employed and feed on the results of their productive labor. Otherwise, soon they will have nothing to feed on, but their vomit and feces.

0
0
Thumb Down

@Stop Prithzilla!

You have to ask - who appointed Prith. I stand by my comment on - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/05/28/hp_europe_jobs/comments/ - a minor academic from a provincial university. Minor in ability, provincial in vision.

The obvious question stands - someone has to take responsibility for his appointment - and his review. It does appear that he was appointed to close down labs.

My company now works on basic R&D on behalf of HP - work that might have been done by HP in the past, but apparently the division concerned could 'not get traction with the head of HP Labs'. Go figure.

0
0
Go

HPLB: Get past it and move on

I spent 6 years at HPLB. 30 minutes in on my first day I learned that innovation inside an industrial behemoth was real challenge. And soon after, that HP Labs management were of two kinds, time servers, and those who would not rock the ship, and spent almost all their time on slide decks, (99.98%) and about 5 others worldwide who lead their teams, supported and inspired them and did something extra critical. The critical part: getting out of Labs and pushing/ forcing/selling/ evangelising their ideas & the teams technologies. Just like it said on the wall posters, Dave Packards words (paraphrased) "Stay with it"

HPL was always going to hit trouble with a "pure academic" (Prith Bannerjee) at the helm, rather than a "consummate politician" (Dick Lampman). And behind that is the difficulty any labbie really understands, the challenge of getting your work into division. At least when Carly Fiorina started, there was a spotlight and some kudos. But as we all learned later, A RockStar CEO (OK I'm guilty I worked as part of her team), wasnt a COO, and Mark Hurd brought that skill set. Carly used a BIG BIG hammer to make HP change (the CPQ merger), and in time that has been good, but not for Labs.

So guys, I'm really sorry for you all, for your families (and for mine, I was WfR'd 2 years back), but now get out there and do your own stuff. Go now, use your time, this gig has ended.Rejoice, and move on, its better by far then winge and die.

Phil McKinney is the brightest spark by far now in HP, follow him on FB or Twitter, and read his weblog at http://www.killerinnovations.com/blog/index.html. dig deep, the route to the future lies there, deep, and effective.

Good luck to all.

0
0
Thumb Down

@Glen

Glen - be fair - Dick actually achieved stuff as a technologist and as a manager. Prith got both wrong. He never appears to be a 'pure academic' - I think some ability is required to do that.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Fordward thinking is needed

Lots of bright people + the spur of redundancy = Innovation

Painful for those involved, no help whatever to HP (but which one of them will care about that), but in the medium to long term beneficial.

Substitute the phrase bean counters for my customers.....

"If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said a faster horse" - Henry Ford

0
0
Thumb Down

HPL is simply broken - let's admit it

I'm a researcher at (the newest of) HP Labs Russia, and was shocked to hear this news. I've been working here since 2008, and after 1+ year with HP Labs, what I have to say about it is that this organization is currently completely broken from top to bottom. The management is out of touch with reality and has poor understanding of what and how should be done.

A couple of days ago we were honoured by a video conversation with Prith, the first time I had a chance to see him not on a photo. The whole purpose of the conversation remains a mystery to me, probably it was done to reassure that our jobs (at HP Labs Russia) are safe... until the end of the year ("I can't predict the future...nobody can.."). In this conversation, Prith stressed how important is to work on things that will come into 'next billion dollar products' and 'truly advance the state of the art'.

Now, I've to admit that at this point of time I don't have a vision for a billion dollar product. Nor do I believe I should have - IMO it's not researchers who should be looking into market opportunities and transform market needs into technical tasks. And if I had, HP would not be the first company in the queue I shared my vision with. So I have an impression that what we're trying to do here at HPL Russia is not in line with Prith's strategy, and it will take a couple of bleak quaterly reports to slash us like HPL Bristol.

Sorry for a long story... time to finish. For me at HPL, this was a year that was full of engagements with potential customers (outside HP), all of which have failed. A lot of effort was wasted into writing the project proposal to fit the lab into Prith's "new HP Labs" system. Since the proposal has been accepted, our goals have changed (they weren't very clear from the start), and the current research is largely out of sync with the proposal. Who on Earth does need the proposal system then? In my opinion, the entire Prith's system is not working, and only puts extra burden on researchers.

Feeling sad for HPL Bristol guys...hopefully finding a new job will not be so big a problem. From your story, I personally can only make conclusions that confirm my feelings about HPL and am going to leave the company soon. Before Mark's & Prith's cost-cutting initiatives will make me to do that ;-)

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.