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Executive Differed With Board Over Tech Company's Direction

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Carly Fiorina, a savvy marketing executive who boldly reshaped venerable computer maker Hewlett-Packard as its chairman-CEO, has stepped down at the request of the company's board.
HP CEO Carly Fiorina has resigned over differences with the board about the company's strategies.
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As CEO, Ms. Fiorina lead several innovations that helped turn HP, which was primarily known for its computer printer business, from a tech company into a marketing company. She turned HP into the largest worldwide advertiser in its field, and in 2003 and 2004 HP spent $1.8 billion a year globally in advertising.

HP's chief financial officer, Robert P. Wayman, will serve as interim CEO and HP director Patricia C. Dunn will serve as non-executive chairman of the board.

Differences regarding strategy
Ms. Fiorina in a statement said she regretted that "the board and I have differences about how to execute HP's strategy." Ms. Dunn, in the statement, credited Ms. Fiorina with revitalizing and reinvigorating the company and said, "We thank Carly for her significant leadership over the past six years as we look forward to accelerating execution of the company's strategy."

In one of her boldest moves following her appointment in 1999, Ms. Fiornia in 2002 led HP's acquisition of Compaq Computer Corp., a company known for its enterprise services. The merger was preceded by a bitter and protracted proxy war that pitted Walter Hewlett, son of an HP founder, against Ms. Fiorina. The pitched battle was played out in high-profile print ads in newspapers and business publications for both sides.

$400 million global branding campaign
At the same time, Ms. Fiorina moved to redefine the company's internal structure, knocking down its traditional fiefdoms and putting the bulk of its money into a branding program. Its first effort was a $400 million global branding campaign aimed at showing that a company known for its printers was capable of delivering a broad range of technology to business customers as well as consumers.

Most recently, Ms. Fiorina began to align the brand with Hollywood, moving into music and digital imaging. HP in 2003 moved its products into in the digital entertainment space, launching a $300 million campaign touting its digital photography capabilities, from cameras to PCs to printers. Later, she partnered with Apple Computer, serving up HP's own version of the Apple's wildy popular iPod digital music downloading platform. Just last month, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Ms. Fiorina appeared on stage with pop singer Gwen Stefani.

Company's headaches
In announcing Ms. Fiorina's resignation, HP executives said the move was made to further the changes she initiated. A number of analysts, however, were quick point out that Ms. Fiorina's departure would not fix the company's headaches on the PC business or other challenges in its printer and services businesses.

Hewlett-Packard faces stiff competition in the latter category from heavyweights such as IBM, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, which are also working to create and market solutions -- rather than products -- that make disparate software systems work together.

Others are still calling for a breakup of the HP and Compaq.

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