HP board chairman Ray Lane is lashing out at critics who are pinning the blame for HP’s mess on the board of directors, who are described in this New York Times article as the “worst board in the history of business.”
Now HP’s directors are getting heat for making the incredible blunder of hiring Leo Apotheker as CEO and firing him after 11 months.
Ray says that’s not his fault, nor is it the fault of his fellow directors. “This board did not select Leo,” he says.
Lane points out that eight of the 14 current board members, including Ray Lane himself, were not involved in selecting Apotheker.
That’s true. Several of the new board members did not choose Apotheker — Apotheker chose them.
Ray Lane fails to mention that five of the new board members were selected by Apotheker (or at least with his input): Pat Russo, Dominique Senequier, Gary Reiner, Meg Whitman and Shumeet Banerji. And several of those people had long ties to Apotheker, as Bloomberg reported at the time.
But more chilling than that is the fact that Lane and Apotheker are old friends. Lane, in fact, joined HP to serve as Apotheker’s consigliere.
Lane and Apotheker have known each other for two decades. Lane joined HP at the same time that Apotheker did, in part because he wanted to work with Apotheker, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In fact their appointments were announced in the same HP press release.
In that press release, Lane said: “I am excited to join the Board of this pioneering company, and look forward to working closely with Léo – and the rest of the Board and senior management team – as they capitalize on the changes taking place across the industry. I have known and admired Léo for almost 20 years. He is ideally suited to build on HP’s strong foundation, leverage its many assets and keep the company at the forefront of innovation.”
Soon after that, Lane spoke to the San Jose Mercury News about his “close working relationship with Apotheker, whom he has known since Lane hired Apotheker as an Oracle consultant in the 1990s.”
But how things have changed. Now that Apotheker is out, Ray Lane says he wasn’t one of the guys who hired him, so the world should stop giving him shit about it.
In fact, Ray Lane now says Leo wasn’t very well qualified at all. Speaking to Kara Swisher at AllThingsD tonight, Lane said: “Leo was very wise about figuring out what HP needed to do to add value. But he did not have more important tools we needed, including operational excellence, people skills and communications skills.”
Furthermore, Lane tells AllThingsD that he’s been talking to Meg Whitman about taking over since last February — only three months after he and Apotheker joined HP, hand in hand.
Ray Lane says he approached Whitman because “she had the kind of leadership that HP needed and was lacking under ousted CEO Leo Apotheker,” Kara Swisher reports.
So, wait. In November 2010 Ray Lane joined HP for the chance to work alongside his old friend Leo Apotheker, whom he called “ideally suited” to be CEO. But by February 2011, Ray Lane was already plotting behind his back to get rid of him.
And now Ray Lane — loyal friend, and man of integrity — is angry at critics who question the judgment of the HP board of directors and suggest these folks are perhaps not the best and brightest in the business world.
This after they’ve just hired a new CEO from among their own ranks without conducting a job search because they didn’t think it was necessary and anyway time’s a-wasting and they need to fill that CEO job right away because this is, after all, the world’s largest technology company, one that does nearly $130 billion a year in revenue, and so why not just pick a CEO from whoever’s sitting in the room with you?
Of course, according to Ray Lane, Meg Whitman is an amazing talent who is ideally suited to run HP and has all the qualifications for the job and Ray Lane just totally thinks the world of her. Today.
1. Watch your back, Meg Whitman.
2. Stay classy, Ray Lane.