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H-P Founders Would Be For Campbell, Not Fiorina

Feb2

If William Hewlett and David Packard were alive today,  the famous eponymous founders of Hewlett Packard Co. would not be supporting ex- H-P CEO Carly Fiorina for U.S. Senate; they would be backing Tom Campbell.

Not only were both Hewlett and Packard enthusiastic recruiters and backers of Campbell in his first race for Congress in Silicon Valley in 1988, but their heirs fought bitterly with Fiorina over her management of H-P, and were crucial to the board of directors’ movement that canned Hurricane Carly in 2005.

In the Senate campaign, Fiorina trumpets her H-P tenure as central to her qualifications for the Senate. If she gets the Republican nomination, however, you can be sure that incumbent and veteran gut-fighter Barbara Boxer will let voters know Carly was picked as one of the worst CEOs of all time by, among others, Portfolio magazine:

A consummate self-promoter, Fiorina was busy pontificating on the lecture circuit and posing for magazine covers while her company floundered.

Bottom line: She became CEO in July, 1999 when HP’s stock price was $52 per share. Five years later it was $21 per share – a 60% decline – while the stock price of competitor Dell rose to $40, from $37 in the same period.

“Hewlett and Packard would roll over in their graves if they knew what she did to the H-P Way,” said one retired H-P executive we know well. “She was hated inside the company and by most retirees.” [Thanks to Calbuzzer wygk for pointing us to this anti-Carly web site operated by former H-P employees.]

Getting bounced from H-P wasn’t the only time Fiorina was shown the door.

In her only experience in big-time politics, she served for a while as a media surrogate for the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008. She lasted until September, when she said in a radio interview that Palin lacked the experience to run a major company like H-P – a gaffe she compounded by adding that, anyway, none of the candidates for president – including her man McCain – had the wherewithal to handle the task. Though she continued working on fundraising, she was pretty much banished as a campaign spokesperson campaign after that.

Given her history, it’s not surprising to read that Arianna Packard, daughter of David Woodley Packard (who, along with Walter Hewlett, the other eldest H-P son,  led the proxy fight to overturn Fiorina’s merger of H-P and Compaq), had given $2,400 to Assemblyman and GOP Senate hopeful Chuck DeVore. Or that H-P’s PAC has given the maximum $10,000 to Boxer.

Now that Campbell’s in the Senate race, our bet is that H-P and other Silicon Valley money mostly goes to Tom Boy, not the former Cara Carleton Sneed.

P.S. We tried to get former Rep. Ed Zschau, our old friend and the prototypical Silicon Valley politician — the original Zschauist –  to opine on whether Dave and Bill would support Campbell or Fiorina but he wouldn’t bite. He noted, however, that in addition to his current gigs teaching at Princeton and being involved in six start-up companies, he’s a member of Campbell’s campaign finance committee and that some of Dudley Do-Right’s campaign staffers were involved in his own Senate bid 24 years ago (covered by your creaky Calbuzzers).

My greatest strength is probably my humility: In a recent column on business leadership, Wall Street Journal online executive editor Alan Murray cited Fiorina as a fine example of what not to do:

Often, it’s in the humility department that modern leaders fail. Think of Carly Fiorina, who as CEO of Hewlett-Packard had her own picture inserted on the wall between those of the company’s iconic founders, Messers. Hewlett and Packard. Ms. Fiorina’s leadership of H-P foundered in part because she was perceived as devoting too much time to cultivating her own image, and too little to fixing the company’s internal management problems.

Even though cultivating your own image is the name of the game in politics, Fiorina’s efforts sometimes suggest she thinks that Senators get paid by the word.

Her daily barrage of press releases has already become a joking matter among political writers, For her campaign, however, it should be no joke that sometimes, less is more, or that a politician’s comments get devalued when the volume of them becomes too great (see Obama, Barack).

Last week was typical: the Hurricane’s campaign sent out at least 15 announcements (weekend excluded) about iCarly’s views on every conceivable subject. There were five on Wednesday alone, including an attack on Boxer over job creation; an attack on the Administration over Central Valley water supply; an account of an event at USC; her anticipatory comments about Obama’s State of the Union address; and her (You Tubed) comments about the actual SOTU. No word yet on when we’ll see her statement offering a look back at the State of the Union.

Who Got Pantsed, Whitman or Poizner? Is eMeg a felon? Is Mike Murphy an unindicted co-conspirator? Is Commish Poizner certifiably insane? Is Stuart Stevens Nurse Ratched in drag? Tune in tomorrow when Calbuzz definitively unravels this second-rate civic soap opera. Here’s a link to the story if you missed the action.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Calbuzz looooves Lady Gaga, the Carly Fiorina of pop music, but the whole pink lady from outer space thing is too much even for us.


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There are 3 comments for this post

  1. avatar wygk says:

    Many HP employees and alumni are already working to stop Carly Fiorina’s Senate bid. Read what they have to say at http://www.carly-fiorina.com

  2. avatar Silent Sleuth says:

    I can’t stand the woman. She comes across as arrogant and spoiled and as one who never learns from her mistakes. I guess she won’t get the votes of the 15,000 HP employees who lost their jobs during her disastrous merger. I think my grandmother would describe Ms. Sneed as someone who acts with unmitigated gall. Both Carly and Meg project an air of “I deserve it and I can afford it so you better give it to me now!” Ugh…

  3. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    When a neighbor of mine saw a photo of me in the local paper protesting a Fiorna speech nearby, she emailed to say how proud she was to tell all her coworkers that she knows me. She’s worked for HP for more than 30 years. While there, a limo pulled up and let out a passenger. The driver then got out and said he used to work at HP. He said the people there just “loooooved Carley.” I said “really?” He said “no.” Honestly, I worked as an ad agency subcontractor when she was at HP. Supposedly she was hired for her marketing smarts. Can’t say as I ever saw any. HP marketing has improved a lot since she left. She was, however, as your piece asserts, relentless at promoting herself.

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