Monday, September 11, 2006

The Latest HP Mess

There is a lot of talk in the valley about the latest HP boardroom brouha. It seems like not a year goes by without some new HP management upset. These upsets seem all the worse for the high regard in which the company was held. If you are upset by what seems to have become of such a great company, let me set the record straight.

Firstly, remember that the great company founded by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard is now called Agilent. While Agilent seems to have lost some of the Hewlett-Packard way, it is not as bad as what has happened to HP, the fat child spun out of the original company several years ago. HP, the computer company, started out life as couple of divisions out of 20 that lost their way.

Part of the Hewlett-Packard way is that divisions grow organically and then split when they reach a certain size. This way no division dominates, they operate as a set of peers. The Computer and Printer divisions eschewed this tradition by just growing until they were big enough to swallow the rest of the company. Worse, the Computer division gave up on organic growth and for much of the last 20 years has been growing by acquisition.

All these acquisitions, particularly the large ones have diluted the blood to the point where we can on longer see a trace of the founding principals (pun intended). So do not feel sorry for HP, it is not the company you thought it was, it is just another big dinosaur well on its way to extinction.

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