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Posts Tagged ‘Hewlett-Packard’



Babs Goes Negative (Big Time) on Carly; Flack Notes

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Barbara Boxer unleashed a forceful attack on Carly Fiorina on Thursday – a purely negative ad noting that, as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the Republican nominee for Senate laid off 30,000 workers, shipped jobs to China, tripled her own salary, bought a million-dollar yacht and five corporate jets.

Kaboom. That’s nasty. Especially because the charges are based in fact and the star of the ad is Hurricane Carly herself, defending the “massive layoffs” she implemented at H-P. And the kicker slogan is killer: “Carly Fiorina – outsourcing jobs, out for herself.”

You can’t get too much more negative than that, unless you were to accuse her of personally stealing Christmas from the crippled children of jobless workers.

But as Calbuzz always says: an election is not a tea party. Negative is fair, if it’s true.

And the Babs campaign backed up the charges in the ad with clips, like this quote from Fiorina from Information Week 10/16/06:

When we combined the R&D budgets of HP and Compaq, we didn’t have to have two R&D teams working on industry standard servers, for instance.  We could have one. That’s why the merger was such a great idea.  We could decrease the cost structure by billions and billions of dollars.  In the course of my time there, we laid off over 30,000 people.  That’s why I understand where the anger came from.

Fiorina’s head didn’t exactly explode. But her spokeshuman called the ad “baseless, personal and deceptive” and the campaign sent out a letter to supporters seeking urgent contributions to respond. Said the appeal:  “I need your help to set the record straight. Your immediate donation will help our campaign get up on the airwaves to hold Boxer accountable for her abysmal record.”

For reporters, the Fiorina campaign sent out an exhaustive “fact check” e-mail arguing:

1. During Fiorina’s tenure as CEO, H-P’s workforce increased to more than 145,000 from 84,400.
2. After she left, CEO Mark Hurd laid off another 40,000 workers.
3. While she was CEO, H-P’s revenues grew to $86.7 billion from $42.4 billion.
4. H-P is a stronger company today because of what Fiorina did as CEO.
5. Boxer has taken large campaign contributions from companies that shipped jobs overseas.

All of which raises the question, “So what?” Because the charge – backed up by Fiorina’s own statement – is that she laid off 30,000 workers. And she shipped jobs to China, etc.

Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski would not tell Calbuzz how much money they’re putting behind the ad, which is scheduled to run in markets throughout the state. “The Outsourcing ad is in rotation with the Made in America ad.  We’ll run them together for as long as needed to reach our target audience,” Rose said.

With the increased stakes in controlling the U.S. Senate from the Tea Party victory of anti-masturbation advocate Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware Republican Primary, our guess is the Boxer hit on Fiorina will get some serious air time. At least until the Fiorina-would-overturn-Roe v Wade ad comes up in rotation.

Fun with flacks: Along with toll taker and industrial paint drying time assessor, the most boring job in the world has got to be working as a spokeshuman for Meg Whitman, and we mean that in the nicest possible way, and with no offense intended to the Volcanic Pompei, Million Dollar Mary Anne or Dependable Darrel.

But really: day after day after day rolling out the heaavvy robo-recitations of “she is endorsing Meg because she believes Meg is the best person to create jobs and fight for every area of the state” and “this is the latest example of problems Jerry Brown is having shoring up his base” and “adoring crowds of Indio residents, delirious with joy, rended their hearts and their garments as they greeted Meg with chants of “Meg’s Plan! Meg’s Plan! Meg’s Plan!” Sheesh.

Which is why Calbuzz was so pleased by one of the dozen or so daily missives from Meg Com that landed in our mail box Thursday, linking to a video which not only contained humor (!) and a light touch (!!) – but also bore unmistakable signs of irony (!!!) as well.

Sent out by Andrea Jones Rivera, deputy under assistant junior vice president for eMeg’s  “Media Memo,” it made the quite piquant observation that Jerry Brown’s latest ad – in which he boasts “I’m not going to give you any phony plans or snappy slogans” – is actually jam-packed full of focus group-friendly, time tested hoary platitudes:

It won’t take playing the soundtrack backwards and at half speed to see that the same ad where he decries “snappy slogans” has 7 of them by our count. Take a look for yourself.

Snappy Slogans in Jerry’s new ad (7)
· tough decisions
· live within our means
· power from the state capital and move it down to the local level
· closer to the people
· no new taxes without voter approval
· pull together
· As Californians first.

Well done, Amusing Andrea – more like that. And tell the rest of that crowd  in the communications shop to lighten up a little, too, willya?

Speaking of flack humor: Pretty good mash-up tweaking Meg by Jerry Kid’s.

Why Brown Won’t Unload on eMeg at Dem Convo

Friday, April 16th, 2010

You could argue that Jerry Brown, who is going to be his party’s nominee for governor, ought to accept the notion that Meg Whitman is going to be the Republican nominee and should begin campaigning against her at the California Democratic Party convention this weekend in LA.

The general election is already under way, says this argument, posited mostly by progressive Democrats, and Brown is just wasting time, letting Whitman get away with murder as she gains positive name ID using corporate CEO as a brand. Given the scandal in the banking industry, Wall Street’s misadventures and the collapse of the American economy, who would ever have thought that a candidate could gain traction as a corporate bigwig?

Whitman’s succeeded so far because no one is attacking her from the left (except Level the Playing Field and the California Accountability Project, neither of which has put their anti-Meg slams into serious TV). eMeg’s GOP opponent, Steve Poizner, attacks Whitman from the right – which actually helps her look somewhat moderate in the general election against Brown.

So with all the news organizations gathered in LA for the Democratic convention, why not use the opportunity to get some free media and launch an all-out attack against eMeg? Frame it around three bullet points:

1) She’s a corporate fat cat who’s out of touch with real people and in cahoots with the greedy, bloodsucking parasites on Wall Street who have wrecked our economy.

2) She’d undo California’s progressive laws seeking to reverse global warming and set polar bears out on ice floes.

3) She’d build more prisons at the expense of schools – how’s that supposed to help California grow jobs and become more competitive in the modern economy?

Yes, Brown could fall prey to the siren song of a full-time, 24-7, balls-to-the-wall general election starting right now. And be broke by Labor Day.

Further, you might ask, why would he want to poke a stick at Whitman right now? Let sleeping billionaires lie seems to make more sense. Why do anything to encourage Whitman to start spending any of her unlimited funds on Brown any earlier than it’s gonna happen anyway?

Which is why, when Brown speaks Saturday, he’s likely to rally the Democratic base and speak harshly in general about Republicans, but not too personally about Whitman. There will be some obvious references: you can’t do a populist jeremiad without bellowing about the bankers on Wall Street and their black-hearted corporate cronies. But don’t expect too much about Goldman Sachs, eBay stock spinning and investments in Skype.

As one strategist close to the Brown campaign told Calbuzz: “It would be a waste of opposition research to roll it out now.”

Sure, we’d love to see the fireworks. But then again, we don’t have to maintain the fire.

That’s the story of the Hurricane: Once again, Carly Fiorina is shocked – shocked! – to learn of alleged unsavory, perhaps illegal, conduct by employees under her watch as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. As all good Calbuzzers know, Hurricane Carly has already professed to know nothin’ about nothin’ to do with HP’s shipments to Iran of hundreds of millions of dollars of products, through a third party company, during her tenure.

Now comes the Wall Street Journal (subscription) to report that the SEC and the U.S. Justice Department have joined the governments of Russia and Germany in investigating allegations that HP went to the wallet for $11 million in bribes to win a lucrative contract with the Russian prosecutor general’s office, while Fiorina was in charge. So, for the second time, iCarly is rolling out her see-no-evil, hear-no-evil act:

“Carly has no knowledge of these alleged actions,” said her spokeswoman, Amy Thoma. “When she served as the CEO of HP if she had been aware of any illegal or inappropriate behavior by any employee she would have taken action immediately to terminate the parties involved.”

Which leaves four possibilities:

1) Double agents in the German and Russian governments, joined by moles in the SEC and DOJ, have all been duped by demon sheep in the Chuck DeVore for Senate campaign into leaking word of a baseless, phony investigation.

2) Fiorina, who never stops boasting of what a swell job she did as HP CEO, was simply ignorant of what was going on in her own company.

3) The whole messy business has slipped her mind.

4) She’s lying.

Calbuzz bets: 2) or 4).

H-P Founders Would Be For Campbell, Not Fiorina

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

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.

9/11 Fishwrap: iCarly, Prince Gavin, Happy Goo-Goos

Friday, September 11th, 2009

carlyfistCarly of Arabia: Here at Calbuzz, our Department of Erudition’s Division of Bibliographic Resources and Recreational Imbibing maintains one of the world’s most extensive databases of news and information sources.

So it was that we happened to peruse some archival reports of AME Info, the widely-known and widely-respected provider of business information in and about the Middle East. Wherein we once again were beset by questions about what former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina knew, and when she knew it, about HP conducting business with Iran, despite a U.S. ban on trade with that, um, controversial nation.

Loyal readers will recall our kudos to Mike Zapler of the San Jose Mercury News, who recently reported on how H-P used a Middle East distributor called Redington Gulf to sell “hundreds of millions of dollars worth of printers and other products” to Iran during the leadership tenure of Fiorina, who has launched a bid to capture the Republican nomination for Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat. In his piece, a spokeswoman stated that Fiorina was “unaware of any sales to Iran during her time at the company.”

Yet smack in the middle of Hurricane Carly’s 1999-2005 stint as CEO, on Oct. 5, 2003, AME Info reported that Redington Gulf had become H-P’s first Mideast distributor to surpass $100 million in transactions through its offices in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, “Iran and Egypt.”

“The seeds of the Redington/Hewlett-Packard relationship in the Middle East were sowed six years ago for one market – Iran – and one product group,” the story says (itals ours). “Today it boasts of covering the entire region and across multiple product groups and support services.”

redingtonThe piece even includes a happy photo of five smiling fellas – identified as “the management of Redington Gulf FZE and seniors from HP” – joining hands to cut a cake in celebration of “this milestone achievement.” And some milestone it was: HP in 2003 named Redington their “Wholesaler of the Year,” according to the distributor’s web site.

But Beth Miller, speaking for Fiorina’s nascent campaign, insisted that HP was “not doing business in Iran at all” while the wannabe Senator was CEO.

“To her knowledge, during her tenure, HP never did business in Iran, and fully complied with all U.S. sanctions and laws,” Miller told Calbuzz. She also cited recent comments by Redington CEO Raj Shankar, also reported by AME Info (take that CB!), stating that his company sells HP printers and supplies to “approved Iranian customers” – who aren’t in Iran.

“Redington Gulf does not engage in any commercial activity in Iran,” Shankar said. “The company does not conduct sales, stocking or import activities inside Iran, nor does it transact payments from any customer or bank in Iran. The business model is such that Redington does not take the product physically to Iran. Redington fulfills those products (in United Arab Emirates), and it is then for the customer to take the product into Iran and engage in local commerce.”

Bottom line: When Fiorina formally enters the race later this year, we foresee rampant curiosity about HP’s 2003 “Wholesaler of the Year.”

[After-the-fact credit note: Although it was suggested to us by someone else before he used it, David Dayen over at Calitics was the first writer we know of to deploy the label  "iCarly".]

Two faces of reform: Good-government reformers will take one look at the new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California and squeal with delight about the finding that 58% of likely voters say it would be a good idea to have a split roll property tax system – in which commercial properties gets taxed at current market value, instead of  being limited in the same way as residential property, which has been the case since the passage of Proposition 13.

And the goo-goos will likely also get a thrill up their legs about the 54% who like the idea of replacing the two-thirds vote requirement with a 55-percent majority rule for the legislature to pass a state budget.

They may even get goose bumps about the 48% of voters who’d support replacing the two-thirds vote requirement with a 55-percent majority standard to pass local special taxes.

But before falling into a total swoon, these good folks should duly note that the same statewide survey found: 58% of likely voters say Proposition 13 is still a good thing; 64% still favor term limits; 65% would limit annual state spending increases; and 55% say laws passed by initiative are probably better than those passed by the legislature and governor.

In other words, California voters like the idea of major changes, but when it comes to actually making changes – don’t bet the house.

gavindash

Two faces of Gavin: SF Mayor Gavin Newsom was sharp as a tack in an interview about his campaign for governor on KCRA’s “Which Way LA” Thursday.

With host Warren Olney flinging tough questions, Prince Gavin showed he can handle serious subjects in crisp sound bites – laying out the key constitutional revisions he’d like to see, his top priorities as governor, where he’d look for new revenue (tobacco tax, oil severance tax and vehicle license fees) and why he believes he was right to lead the way in standing up for gay marriage.

It’s clear that by routinely taking questions from the public and reporters  (as opposed to, oh say, Meg Whitman, just to pick a name out of the air) Newsom has honed his campaign skills. As Calbuzz told Olney on his post-interview segment, Newsom’s political problem is not one  of presentation; rather, he needs to convince enough donors that he’s a smart investment to put together the resources to run a serious campaign. And that’s a tough sell because Attorney General Jerry Brown – who’s about 20 points ahead of Newsom in serious polling — is especially popular with older voters. And about 68% of the June 2010 primary electorate is expected to be 50 and older.

But we gotta say – he gives good interview.

gavinpensiveOn the other hand: SF Weekly presents a decidedly unflattering portrait of Newsom in the Calbuzz Must-Read of the Week. Pulling more than its share of the local media’s load of responsibility for enlightening the rest of us about Prince Gavin, the paper published a terrific 4,622-word profile by Ashley Harrell, who interviewed boatloads of former advisers, consultants and supporters:

“Seek out the political operatives who once worked closely with Newsom, and you’ll find that a number have soured on the mayor. Ask them why, and you’ll be bombarded with his alleged character flaws. Among them: ‘thin-skinned,’ ‘disloyal,’ ‘friendless,’ ‘joyless,’ ‘Machiavellian,’ ‘craven,’ and ‘empty.’ One will tell you that Eric Jaye was ‘the best-paid babysitter in California.’ Several will diagnose Newsom with an acute case of narcissism.

“‘He’s probably the worst mayor in modern history,’ said Jack Davis, a strategist who has worked on the mayoral campaigns of Newsom, Willie Brown, and Frank Jordan. ‘I pity this poor state if lightning should strike and this cad becomes governor amidst the problems that the state has. He’d have a nervous breakdown. There’s no there there.’”

Must read II: The indefatigable Mark Z. Barabak offered up a considerably brisker profile of Newsom that, in a series of deft strokes, also cut to the core of what bothers lots of folks in San Francisco about their mayor – and explains why Brown runs ahead of Prince Gavin in SF.

“Still, to a striking degree, some of Newsom’s biggest backers — in civic groups and policy circles, among political activists and campaign donors — have in the last few years become some of the mayor’s sharpest critics. In a series of interviews, they expressed disappointment and accused Newsom, in words oft-repeated, of focusing more on self-aggrandizement and personal publicity than solving the city’s problems.

‘Once he’s said it and it’s printed in the newspapers, it’s done in his mind,’ said Jim Ross, a political consultant who ran Newsom’s 2003 campaign for mayor. ‘Then it’s on to the next big announcement.’”

This just in – U.S. land mass growing exponentially: A headline on the Huffpost home page last week read thusly: “Hundreds of states shut down to save money.”