Thursday, October 08, 2009

The HP Horse Doesn't Want to Run for this Jockey

My post a few weeks ago on Mark Hurd's perks at HP has generated a lot of traffic and email comments -- especially from current or former HP/EDS employees.

Here is a link from one ex-EDS'er in Germany upset at the way things have played out.

Of course, every business needs to find a way to cut costs and save -- especially in the current environment -- but there's clearly a large portion of HP employees who feel very upset at the way Hurd and HP management have gone about their cost-savings drive. Preaching cost cuts to the troops, and then turning around and living high off the hog themselves at the expense of shareholders.

I remember one time going to an HP meeting when I worked for a software company while Carly was still CEO. The meeting was at an old DEC facility in Nashua, NH. I remember it took about 10 minutes to walk from the guest entrance desk to the meeting room. Along the way, I passed dozens and dozens of empty cubicles, as jobs had been "rationalized" away elsewhere. When I finally got to the meeting room, the HP folks were all very smart and friendly, but I remember being amazed that we spent a good 15 minutes or so of small talk time discussing what an embarrassment Carly was as a CEO. I remember leaving the meeting thinking: "great people but that company is in trouble if that's how all the employees feel about their boss."

These recent comments I've received back from employees about Hurd remind me of that meeting again.

I'm sure Hurd would say these are disgruntled employees who don't get the need for "cost cutting." They don't understand the new competitive global environment we operate in, etc. etc. He probably would also say all this employee grousing will go away when the stock starts going back up again. In fact, at a recent analysts' day, he touted that HP was going to grow "faster than the market" in 2010.

Maybe. But I don't buy it. I sense deep anger and lack of trust among the rank and file with Hurd and his team. I get a sense of Hurd being the jockey on a horse that's decided it doesn't want to run any more for this jockey. He can whip it all he wants, but that horse is not going to run.

Let's see how HP's stock does next year and if it does grow faster than the market.

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