We couldn't label this report as "News Outta HP" because its principals have both been turned out of the company by now. But in a brief span of network TV time, both of Hewlett-Packard's former chairmen took shots at the current management of their former companies. CBS let reporter Lesley Visser interview both Carly Fiorina and Patricia Dunn in a remarkable pair of segments notable for their lack of balance.
CBS used the "we couldn't get them to talk to us" alibi while keeping their report focused on just one point of view about HP's past five years. The two leaders excised from the company complained about conspiracies, charicature-ization and the unfair treatment HP's board gave them.
Customers of HP 3000 installations might sympathize with these former executives; the 3000, after all, was cut from the HP roster almost as "suddenly and without warning" as Fiorina claims she was fired. The transcript of the CBS stories shows a former CEO in total denial about her shortcomings. What else would anyone say on the eve of publication of their book about HP management, Carly-style?
HP employees — current and former — hurled plenty of criticism at the TVs broadcasting the CBS stories, more at Fiorina and her revision of history. The richest irony escaped the 60 minutes news dragnet: Dunn sparked the moves that led to Fiorinia's ouster. CBS viewers were treated to the spectacle of seeing a fired CEO commiserate with the director who swung the axe on her.
As for regrets, HP's former CEO expressed few. While CBS was happy to note that former director Tom Perkins now sails the world's biggest private sailboat, the report failed to mention the $22 million, plus options on 850,000 shares of HP stock, Fiorina took on her departure. Few lessons in corporate management, steeped in operational failure, pay so well. The stock, of course, has nearly doubled in value since Fiorina was forced to quit.
Dunn, who never enjoyed the rock star perks of an HP CEO new hire, departed with far less: a few million dollars in a parachute, an indictment on criminal charges, and a new diagnosis of advanced ovarian cancer and a course in chemotherapy. Plus the chance to tell her story unchallenged on a US broadcast network.
For a more balanced take on the story that just won't quit putting HP into the news, have a look at the report from IT Web site The Register: Fired women of HP heap scorn on the dirty old men.