Carly Fiorina wrong for HP, wrong for California
Jason Burnett, Eric Gimon
San Francisco Chronicle
October 26, 2010
In her run for the U.S. Senate, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is telling California voters she will bring change to Washington. Should she get elected, we believe she will let them down just as she did the employees and shareholders of HP.
As members of the Hewlett and Packard families, we heard Fiorina make this same promise of change when she took over the pioneering Silicon Valley company our grandfathers started in a Palo Alto garage in 1939.
When Fiorina came to Hewlett-Packard in 1999, the company was still hewing closely to the guiding vision that our grandfathers laid out, which put a premium on integrity, respect for employees and a focus on how the company's work would benefit the broader community. It was known simply as the HP Way.
During her brief tenure at HP, Carly Fiorina broke from these core values - and nearly destroyed a great company.
She ruptured the collaborative relationship between employees and management, which for decades had fostered a talented and loyal workforce. In stark contrast to our grandfathers' track record of avoiding layoffs, Fiorina laid off tens of thousands of employees, shipping many of those jobs overseas.
Rather than the team-oriented approach that had characterized HP since its founding, Fiorina instituted a top-down culture. She got herself on the covers of glossy magazines. Most good CEOs put employees, shareholders and customers ahead of themselves. Fiorina appeared to put herself first. While she asked employees to make sacrifices - including giving up their profit-sharing plan - she took more than $100 million in pay and perks.
She pursued a growth-at-all-costs strategy, which culminated in the merger with Compaq that sparked a divisive fight over the legacy of the HP Way.
What were the results? During her time at HP, shareholders were disappointed by the company's poor stock performance. Employee morale plummeted. Independent management experts and multiple publications have dubbed her one of the worst CEOs of all time. Even Wall Street celebrated when Fiorina was fired, sending HP's stock up. What does it say that HP was worth billions of dollars more with Fiorina gone?
While Fiorina's values were wrong for HP, we believe they would be devastating for California and the nation. On the paramount issue of jobs, she has opposed major jobs bills over the last two years, including efforts to help small businesses.
Fiorina has said she's running on her record at HP. We urge California voters to take a closer look.
She was the wrong choice for HP. She is the wrong choice for the U.S. Senate.
Jason Burnett, founder of Burnett EcoEnergy in Carmel, is the grandson of David Packard. Eric Gimon, a physicist living in Berkeley, is the grandson of Bill Hewlett.
This article appeared on page A - 14 of the San Francisco Chronicle