back to article Whitman's split: The end of Fiorina's HP grand expansion era

Hewlett Packard became two companies on 1 November, splitting enterprise from consumer. Founded by David Packard and William Hewlett, number one in PCs and in servers, one the granddaddies of Silicon Valley, the massive corporation has undergone a massive change. Personal computers and printers have now been set adrift onto …

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The real HP - oscilloscopes, IR spectrophotometers, etc, is long gone. So sad, it was a really successful business.

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Ah, you mean Keysight. They were Agilent for many years, although that was an anagram of genital.

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Real HP?

HP still makes calculators!

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Happy

HP still makes calculators!

Yep...sure do. The HP 12C is still available from them. I have one...a very good device. I also have an HP 41 Scientific calculator that was a fantastic tool. Don't use them much anymore, but still they're reliable.

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GBE

HP _was_ test equipment!

I always prefered Tektronix scopes over HP (HP's scope controls and UI never worked well for me), but for everything else HP was was always the go-to brand. Seriiously, everthing. DC to light. Bench power supplies and multimeters, audio test equipment, RF and microwave test equipment and even LEDs and laser and optical stuff. All that PC and printer stuff was just a bunch of generic "me-too" commodity junk not really worthy of the HP logo. Then they decided to ditch what they were actually _good_ at....

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"...Leo Apotheker was hired in September 2010, and promptly proposed turning HP in to a software company, soon introducing the radical idea of spinning off the PC business.

This was too much for the board and investors, and Apotheker was gone within a year..."

Rather like saying the VW boss resigned because of some disagreement to do with environmental standards.

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Anonymous Coward

Leo was a freaking moron; unless you think wildly overspending to acquire other companies only to write them of as a near total loss of billions a year or two later and pissing off dam near every employee is a good way to run a business.

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Boards vs CEOs

The Board of Directors must have been complicit. CEOs have a lot of autonomy (pun not intended), but they don't make multi-billion acquisitions without board approval,

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Anonymous Coward

It is a good way to run a business - your own private business, which is: Buying the LEAP PUT options via your Luxembourg numbered account and, after cashing in on those, collecting the Golden Parachute for not ratting on the other rats on the board.

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Managers

The general view seems to be that when the people with some insight into engineering stopped running the business, and the MBA types came in, things when downhill.

I'm not qualified to have an opinion but I have experience of similar and it didn't end well.

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Re: Managers

It's a tad more complicated than that. Companies run solely by engineers tend not to be around because they lose too much money. Companies run solely by bean counters tend to become zombie corps because they don't understand the project but know how to keep shifting the money around. To have a truly successful company you need one where the two groups are in balance. Sometimes, but very, very rarely, this balance is found in a single individual. At it's inception HP seems to have been blessed with two. But when they left the corporation didn't know how to find that balance.

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HP and the future

HP cannot and will not improve its position in the industry. Kicking out the best of the best of those who still DO work and DO know their customers.

The company is now run by Excel spreadsheet specialists who like to give orders to others.

Fiorina, Hurd, Whitman. How many persons does it take to ruin a company? Leo´s ideas might have been looking strange at his time, however, he might have done a better job than the three persons mentioned before.

For almost 30 years i had close contacts to HP and even more to HP customers.

I still have good contacts to HP employees. It is the managers who are doing a bad job.

The customers do not really care who is the culprit.

HP customer service turned pretty bad, HP service technicians want me to shut dow my server to replace a hot-pluggable disk in a raid 1+0 configuration. I appreciate this experise of "experts".

And NO, it s not all HP´s fault. The world has become greedy and you will never get more than you want to pay for.

And when i look at our universities and colleges, they are still doing a good job, when it comes to technology. When it comes to law and business the only topics seem to be "how can i become rich without working 3 days a week".

And "The Machine" and "Memristor" seem to be further away than ever. If they cannot make it by 2018, noboby will listen to science fiction stories anymore. Prototypes were promised for 2016/2017. It does not look like it.

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Joke

Re: HP and the future

<quote>When it comes to law and business the only topics seem to be "how can i become rich without by only working 3 days a week month, and tell me the best way to increase shareholder value by cutting costs".</quote>

FTFY!!!

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Holmes

And the Magic is still missing

Fiorina - gambled big with the company and its employees lives when she bought Compaq - unfortunately it just ruined two brands in one fell swoop. Just a step in a career ...

Apotheker - didn't get the IT thing. Its about the innovation ....

Hurd - its all about services ain't it? Money bonfire ensued ...

They all diluted the HP Way motto that its about the employees and the business would follow - instead the employee got waved off and they tried to buy innovation. The Exec's future careers were more important than the organisation and they gambled with our futures - but then most large silicon valley companies don't care about their slave armies - they are all dispensable.

Whitman - good luck - remember its about how people feel working for the company that will reflect on the quality of you products and services that THEY ultimately build and support. Forget about them (again) and you will go the way of the dinosaurs - second rate cartoons and godzilla movies.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: muddling managers

"Fiorina - gambled big with the company and its employees lives when she bought Compaq - unfortunately it just ruined two brands in one fell swoop. Just a step in a career ..."

But remember, as an American [you] should vote for her, because she'll do a great job!

...

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Re: And the Magic is still missing

Apotheker - didn't get the IT thing. Its about the innovation ....

I'm not so sure about that. It's important to remember how we got here. It all started with IBM which at the time was a balanced hardware/software company. But by 2010 the hardware side of their business was gone. The hardware innovation was all happening at more narrowly focused companies, and lumbering giants like IBM and HP have trouble with that. You might even say Intel has problems with it these days, except AMD seems to have even more. But you do see innovation and synergies coming out of the software side of things. That's really what virtual machines and the cloud are: software innovations.

Now maybe he wouldn't have recognized a golden egg if the software people had given him one, but he at least foresaw that hardware was headed to commodity status. None of the rest of them did. And hardware being headed for commodity status wasn't exactly an unheard of idea. When the P4s were just coming out, I was at an Intel dog and pony show where one of their VPs posited the idea that in the near future PCs would be free or have negative value. Instead companies would be making their money on their service contracts. Things aren't exactly that bad, but he was more right than wrong.

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Re: And the Magic is still missing

"They all diluted the HP Way motto that its about the employees and the business would follow - instead the employee got waved off and they tried to buy innovation. "

Exactly this. I was working for HP at the time (in fact, I was laid off under Hurd). We went from a company where engineers had an actual career trajectory to one where there were just two possible states - employed and fired. Senior non-exec positions went from being filled by training internal candidates to being filled by either new hires or, increasingly, acquisition; more than a few small companies were purchased at inflated prices throughout the period simply to pick up one or two key people, with everyone else being fired off as quickly as they could get away with (usually over a 4 or 5 year period). And literally everyone was a contractor; after 2000, getting a permanent contract from HP as an engineer simply didn't happen.

That's Fiorina's legacy. A total failure to invest in the workforce in any meaningful way, which the workforce were well aware of. No-one gave a damn about the company anymore, because they all knew the company didn't give a damn about them.

Also, could someone please give Gavin a basic lesson in how to write English? Just an outline of the concept of the paragraph might help make his articles read less like a laundry list of random thoughts, or the dullest poem ever.

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Pint

Aspirations

"Like its one-time great PC sparring partner, Dell, HP has determined survival comes not from shifting boxes but from being aspirational."

I aspirated beer once. I was watching Nights of Terror, a bad italian zombie movie. One line in a scene made me inhale right as I was taking a drink. Coughed for 20 minutes all the while laughing at the movie and myself.

I'm searching for some metaphorical connection to this story, but I really can't find one.

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Didn't know Meg was an iceskater or gymnast

... but she did the split really well.

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Anonymous Coward

This split is the first competent project HP have completed in recent memory.

I won't hold my breath, but if they can execute client projects like that they may have a future yet.

As this article confirms their hardware business is commoditised and gradually ebbing away. Their sole differentiator is as an enterprise services business of scale and scope that has been advantageous to winning monolithic IT projects in the past.

The big problem was that that same scale (of both HP and the projects themselves) was highly disadvantageous in delivering them and that's created a thoroughly justified cyncism about any new project of that size.

Turning that reputation around would give them plenty of room for growth, but only if they focus on that delivery and don't continue the death by a thousand cuts that has crippled their execution since Fiorina came onboard.

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Anonymous Coward

Do HPUX and NonStop and VMS still exist?

It is written that the world has a future for OSes that do not depend on systemd (nb Windows 10 is not an OS, it is a promotional preview for a bureau service).

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Re: Do HPUX and NonStop and VMS still exist?

Yes. They are part of HP Enterprise. Well, Nonstop and HPUX. Not sure about VMS.

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Re: Do HPUX and NonStop and VMS still exist?

Yes, VMS is still "owned" by HPE but developed by VMS Software Inc (www.vmssoftware.com). They have hired many of the original team, putting the band back together, and are porting to X86!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do HPUX and NonStop and VMS still exist?

Vms is still around and in production in 3 data centres in London and the South East and are used by 2 very large organisations relating to the trading/financial sector.

The Alpha servers running Vms are under support by a HPE subsidiary and the way the systems are configured require an outtage when anything disks included need replacing as there is no raid implemented on the systems with directly attached scsi tape drives used for daily backups .

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Re: Do HPUX and NonStop and VMS still exist?

They have hired many of the original team, putting the band back together, and are porting to X86!

Neat, though I always had the most fun with VMS when I was writing VAX assembly. Now that was a CISC processor. And the macro library was great.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do HPUX and NonStop and VMS still exist?

"Vms is still around and in production in 3 data centres in London and the South East "

Plus a few you're clearly not aware of.

"The Alpha servers running Vms are under support by a HPE subsidiary and the way the systems are configured require an outtage when anything disks included need replacing as there is no raid implemented "

That's not VMS's fault, it's the way "modern" IT departments are sometimes run (by clueless people). I've known IT departments send out emails saying "we need 6 hours downtime to replace a drive on the resilient storage" (only marginally paraphrased). Anyone even vaguely questioning things like that was categorised as "not a team player". How wrong is that?

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WTF?

HP enterprise == EDS?

So, HP the printer'n'PC company buy EDS the services company, in order to be everything.

This isn't working out, so many billions later the company splits into printer'n'PC, and "HP Enterprise".

What part of HP Enterprise isn't EDS?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HP enterprise == EDS?

What part of Hewlett Packard Enterprise isn't EDS?

The parts that make servers, storage, network bits and software...?

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Anonymous Coward

Under Florina they also killed DEC Alpha cpu ...

The transition from Alpha systems to you will only eat our outsourced concept - Itanium under Fiorina and Hurd is also a nice school example how NOT to do it ...

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Joke

I understand that lots of energy is being made...

From the coil positioned over Bill or Dave's grave site. The rotating body seems to have lots of unharnessed energy that is induced in the coil above.

I hope that Bill doesn't take this personally. My dad knew him for a long time.

Hewlett Packard is long gone. It is just "HP" now (in whatever for it is in).

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Holmes

Bill and Dave's excellent adventure is well and truly dead now. Take a note from Dell buying EMC private that a huge public company is hard to steer but a huge private one isn't. Whitman tries unzipping HP while IBM sacrifices all on the altar of shareholder value. Who's right? Time will tell.

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Anonymous Coward

HP's original strength

The thing that made HP a powerhouse in the 80s-90s was its high tech research arm.

They created the laser printer and made billions off of it.

Ever since they gutted research, HP has become just another me too, lowest cost hardware vendor.

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Re: HP's original strength

Canon invented and manufactures "all" proper laser printer assemblies, incl HP.

HP adds the plastic and maybe some firmware.

IMO HP does it better than most.

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HP still sells ink made of unicorn blood.

Their printer ink still costs more per gallon than a nice bottle of Dom Perignon or Veuve Cliquot.

And their inkjet printers still break every so often.

I'm guessing that was their profitable part of business. I got rid of their inkjets long ago, right after they printed their last single smile font on every sheet of paper in a 100-stack of A4.

Never again.

Now I have an Epson printer that hadn't failed once in 2 years, and didn't even have to put more ink in it yet.

And that's how you break a company.

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Anonymous Coward

Shed a tear

I was at the Computer Museum in Mountain View this year, and it was sad to see how the once great HP celebrated at the museum has faltered. Frankly Whitman is the first competent CEO they've had in a decade. Think about that. Ten years of total lack of true leadership. Buying Compaq and doing nothing with it. Getting fired for messing with expenses (incredible! Who doesn't know how to handle an expense claim in this day and age?) Not understanding the true state of Autonomy. Really, it's incredible that HP are still in business given ten years without leadership.

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