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Thinking about Fiorina

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On August 17th, The New York Times' blog, Dealbook., ran a piece by Andrew Ross Sorkin about Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.

Fiorina is getting some traction, despite the fact that she has never held public office. She has been a chief executive of a major institution, though. That institution was the computer giant Hewlett-Packard, and that qualification is CF's chief credential (aside from appealing initials) for the post of chief executive of the United States.

Sorkin does not have a high opinion of her performance at HP. He says that he vividly remembers September 2001, when she announced her plans for a merger with Compaq. So here is her, and his, money quote from the column:

“Hang with us,” she said on that same day in a conference call with reporters. “It’s going to be a great party.”

The party never happened, but the hangover was brutal. Hewlett-Packard is still recovering from the ill-conceived merger nearly 14 years later, and recently decided to split the company up. There were some 30,000 layoffs. Its stock price plunged and badly lagged its competition.


On the other hand ... I have heard from a long-time stockholder in HP that the drop after the Compaq merger was merely a bump on a fairly well-paved road. Further, there may be a case to be made that it was a bump worth enduring.

After all, the computer-manufacturing industry in which both HP and Compaq were major players was due for a consolidation at the time of the merger. The PC/desktop business, the mainstay for both firms, was due for some shrinkage -- I say, as I type this post on a laptop -- and combining the companies allowed them to prepared for that.

To be specific, I'm typing this post on an HP Chromebook. It is possible Carly helped prepared HP for the new more mobile world that was on its way.


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