Meg Whitman is leaving as Hewlett Packard CEO after a successful six-year turnaround, and seems ready to take on her next Silicon Valley Fortune 500 deal.
The company’s latest quarterly earnings report disclosed that Meg Whitman has told the company’s Board of Directors that she will resign as CEO effective February 1, 2018. Although she originally joined Hewlett Packard in September 2011 for a salary of $1 a year and a boatload of incentive options, company President Antonio Neri will be paid a $1 million annual salary as her replacement.
Time published a Hewlett Packard doomsday story on May 27, 2014 titled: “Meg Whitman Has the Hardest Job in Silicon Valley.” It claimed the former E-Bay CEO was cutting headcount and shrinking the size of Hewlett Packard (HP) too aggressively. Virtually every sector of HPs businesses was competitively losing market share when Whitman came in three years ago.
But by creating a much smaller Hewlett Packard and completing the spin-off of the company’s consulting businesses, called Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), both publicly traded companies are cash flow machines. Shareholders have enjoyed about a 125 percent stock price gain since 2011.
Whitman originally turned down the dicey CEO job at HP in early 2011, after having spent $125 million of her own money on a losing Republican effort for California governor against Democrat Jerry Brown. But after CEO Mark Hurd was shown the door over accusations of sexual harassment and expense account discrepancies, Whitman took the CEO job with the board’s commitment to back her in making radical downsizing changes.
Hewlett Packard may have started in a Palo Alto middle-class home’s garage in 1939, but when Meg Whitman arrived, the company reeked of corporatism. The executives enjoyed a big, well-decorated office that captured all the buildings’ windows and sunlight, while engineers and workers labored under the hum of florescent lights.
Whitman culturally blew up the old Hewlett Packard by peeling off the limousine-tinted window film on the corporate officers’ office and tore down fencing that segregated the executive parking lot on her second day. The cultural revolution soon went into overdrive when she booted executive corner offices and sat everyone, including herself, in company cubicles. The offices of HP founders Bill Hewlett and David Packard are still vacant.
Meg Whitman is the only woman on the planet whose resume has experience as the CEO of two Fortune 500 companies. She is rated as the 7th most influential woman by Fortune Magazine and she is second to only Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg as most influential woman in Silicon Valley.
At the age of only 61, Whitman is the likely recruitment target of a huge number of multi-national companies. It was widely reported that the board of Fortune 500-member Uber Technologies Inc. tried hard in August to attract her to replace Travis Kalanick as CEO.