Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded Hewlett Packard Company also known as HP in 1939 and company gained a remarkable reputation to be one of the most innovative companies in the world where in it developed innovative printers, scanners, calculators, servers and personal computers. For years success mantra for the company had been the innovation which is essential for the continuous growth and survive in the highly competitive market place. Innovation is at the heart of HP as company constantly innovated with bold ideas particularly in the printers business and also later in the servers and PC businesses. HP leadership has encouraged innovation at all levels in the organization which made company hugely successful and one of the most admired companies in the world. For years till the year 2000, HP was an innovative market leader focused on high-growth, high-profit businesses. But HP lost its way since then where in the company struggled to keep up its revenues and almost forgot innovation which helped the company to survive for years. Innovation is essential for technology companies be it hardware, software and services companies to survive for long term.
Since the year 2001 the company started facing serious troubles post the acquisition of Compaq (PC manufacturer) by Carly Fiorina which was highly criticized at that time as both the companies were struggling with poor financial performance and IBM had sold of its PC business to Lenovo highlighting that the PC business is no longer high profit business and IBM shifted its focus to software, services and consulting. Personal computers business was becoming low margin, low growth business which was a wrong move for a company like HP that focused on innovative products that provided unique benefits to the customers which were hard to be replicated by the competitors and are high margin. Carly Fiorina was criticized for transforming a highly innovative company into a market follower and generic company with focus on low growth and low profit business. Carly Fiorina targeted PC business which lacked product differentiation as Dell, Lenovo and other PC manufacturers who have manufacturing operations in China produced at cheaper cost and the whole strategy was based on volume based and not on innovation for which HP had big reputations. HP was turned from a transformational innovator into a generic manufacturer.
Mark Hurd replaced Carly Fiorina as HP CEO in 2005 and his tenure at the helm of HP was a remarkable transformation in itself where he doubled the share price and increased net income significantly. Mark Hurd acquired EDS which is a IT Services company in 2008 and this deal was questioned by many insiders and outsiders as EDS was facing severe financial troubles in its business and HP spent close to US$ 14 bn to acquire the troubled EDS. EDS could not recover under HP and its business is still struggling and rumors are going around that HP is looking to dispose of EDS. Mark Hurd also acquired 3com, networking equipment manufacturer and again HP struggled to maintain growth and profits as there had been significant shift in the technology environment where in there is shift towards mobile devices and common carriers and above all HP could not innovate and enter new markets for pushing the products. He also acquired another struggling smartphone company Palm for US$1.2 bn. Mark Hurd was brought into HP to cut costs and improve financial position of the company which he did remarkably well but in doing so he also cut Research & Development cost also significantly that hampered the innovation in HP. The short term profitability gains destroyed the long term gains fueled by innovation that are essential for long term survival of HP.
Leo Apotheker replaced Mark Hurd as CEO of HP as Mark Hurd was forced to leave accused of falsifying expense reports (worth US$ 20,000), and also covered up a relationship with a female marketing consultant who alleged that he sexually harassed her. Leo Apotheker whose tenure at SAP AG was itself controversial that cost SAP close to US$1.3 bn and in his 11 months tenure at HP he made some very controversial decisions like spinning off the Personal Computer business and also the acquisition of Autonomy for US$ 10.3 bn. Both the Mark Hurd and Leo Apotheker was paid severance packages of US$ 40 million and US$ 25 million respectively which was a big burden on already struggling HP financials. Meg Whitman replaced Leo Apotheker as CEO of HP and instantly she overturned the decision of spinning off PC business and initiated a series of layoffs, which numbered 27,000. In November 2012, HP announced that it will take an $8.8 billion write down on the Autonomy deal amid allegations of accounting improprieties at the software company and investigations were initiated by both US SEC and UK Serious Fraud office.
Apart from these failed acquisitions, mismanagement of HP Leadership another factor that significantly effected HP had been the brain drain where in HP veterans had left the company. Some of the departures were V.J. Joshi, the executive vice president Pinter business, Patrick Scaglia Group CTO, Bill DeLacy, who was the senior vice president for printing, Randy Mott CIO, etc. These departures of the company veterans some of them to key competitors and other firms is a big concern for the company in terms of focus on innovation. Meg Whitman after her initial tough decisions has realized the fact that only way of reviving the growth at HP is only through innovation and in a recent earnings call she promised disruptive innovations. She also said that there are many innovative products are being developed in the Research & Development Labs and these products will hit the market over the period of time. But the critics are also skeptical about the capabilities of Meg Whitman to turnaround HP but she is confident that she will do her best to revive HP and she recently announced that there will be organizational restructuring within HP. She is also asking employees to work together to turnaround the struggling company and the only way HP will revive is through innovation of new products across different categories.
In an interview with CRN HP Chief Strategy Officer, Mohamad Ali highlighted three innovative technologies as software-defined networking, ElitePad notebooks and OfficeJet Pro X. OfficeJet Pro X is very different where in the ink technology that is super high-end and be able to run ink at 65 pages per minute which will be bright and at 50 percent reduction in cost. The recent launch of HP Moonshot which is the world's first software defined server powered by Atom processors and also extreme low-energy server technology. HP recovery is still in process and with these product launches it seems to be on right track.