Hewlett-Packard this week added three new high-profile members to its board of directors, a move that could help that organization rebuild its reputation, which has, in the past few years, taken some hits from questionable decisions.
The addition of three new directors, including the former CEOs of McDonald's and Liberty Media and one of the IT industry's best-known technologists, raised the total number of directors to 12.
New to HP's board of directors are Robert Bennett, former president and CEO of Liberty Media; Raymond Ozzie, former chief software architect of Microsoft and founder of Talko; and James Skinner, former vice chairman and CEO of McDonald’s and current chairman of Walgreen.
Rich Baldwin, CIO and chief strategy officer at Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider and long-term HP partner, said he is excited to see the addition of Bennett, Ozzie and Skinner to the HP board of directors.
"It looks like HP has made an effort this time to find three great people," Baldwin said. "And the fact that there are now a dozen directors is also good news. Twelve heads are better than nine, especially with the new people. They all have deep resumes."
HP's board has in the recent past not done a good job of working together, Baldwin said.
For example, he cited the board's 2010 decision to hire former SAP CEO Leo Apotheker as HP's CEO and Ray Lane as its nonexecutive chairman in the wake of its firing of former CEO Mark Hurd, who later joined HP's archrival Oracle.
Less than a year later, the board replaced Apotheker with current HP CEO Meg Whitman.
During that year, the board approved the $10-billion-plus acquisition of Autonomy, an acquisition currently under investigation by HP because of potential accounting issues, as well as the planned-but-never-executed sale of HP's PC business.
"Their decisions, or lack of decisions, didn't work out well for HP," Baldwin said. "Look at the decision to bring Leo [Apotheker] on. The board seemed to be looking at Hurd leaving, and who could hurt Oracle the most."
NEXT: Looking Forward With The New Board
Lane might have been too close to the politics going on at HP during his time, and may have focused less on what was best for HP's business then, Baldwin said.
"But Meg [Whitman] has done a great job with HP," he said. "She still has a long way to go. But she's been making the decisions she needs to make."
HP said Bennett will join the board's Finance and Investment Committee and the Audit Committees. Ozzie will join the Technology Committee and the Finance and Investment Committee, while Skinner will join the Audit, HR and Compensation, and Nominating and Governance Committees.
Whitman, in a statement related to the appointment of the new board members, said, "As we move forward with our turnaround, it’s a huge benefit to be able to get advice from a board made up of such experienced business and technology leaders. For their part, Rob, Ray and Jim have just about seen it all during their careers. I’m very grateful for their support, as well as the ongoing support from all of the directors."
PUBLISHED JULY 16, 2013