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Management shakeups shake up HP, Google

Looks like Hewlett-Packard is ejecting a few bozos from its clown car of a board.

OK, that’s harsh. But not inaccurate, given the dysfunction of that board which has been a hot topic among HP partners for more than a year.

Four directors–allegedly those closely involved in the awkward ouster of CEO Mark Hurd in August–will not stand for re-election. Those four are Joel Hyatt, John Joyce, Robert Ryan and Lucille Salhany.

HP chairman Ray Lane buried that news in a post announcing the new board members including former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. You may remember Meg from her crackerjack-yet-unsuccessful campaign for California governor.

Conspicuously not  named to the board was HP exec Ann Livermore who, The Wall Street Journal  earlier reported, would join the board. Given that HP seemingly hand delivers all its plans to the Journal though, that announcement will come soon.

Hurd was widely disliked inside HP for his ruthless cost-cutting and seeming lack of strategic vision beyond said cost-cutting and acquisitions. But he did deliver to one key constituency: Shareholders. So the way he was ousted and the ensuing scandal ratcheted up pressure for major re-do of a board that many viewed as barely competent.

It was telling that one of Leo Apotheker’s first acts as incoming HP CEO was reinstating pay cuts to many HP execs, according to one long-time HP partner. “That helped morale,” he said.

Left hanging was another major management shakeup reported by the WSJ  that had HP divvying up its enterprise business with EVP Dave Donatelli running the overall hardware group and Tom Hogan driving services. That report raised eyebrows among HP VARs who said the lack of any mention of personal systems guy Todd Bradley and printer guru Vyomesh Joshi (“VJ”) was troubling.  

Meanwhile, down the road in Mountain View, it looks like the original Google guys derailed Eric Schmidt. Schmidt is moving from the CEO slot to executive chairman. Larry Page gets the top job and Sergei Brin will focus on technology.

This news comes as Google, a megapower in Internet search and hugely profitable, has struggled in new markets. Its Android technology is powering  phones that have given iPhone it’s only real challenge but Google’s other new efforts have faltered and the Google Don’t be Evil” slogan is in tatters after its misadventures in China and several mis-begotten statements (by Schmidt) on Internet privacy.

In many circles, Google has taken on the patina of a “legacy” tech power, an image it probably would like to nuke.

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