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Fiorina and HP finances now in the news

Fiorinabook Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina has landed her first job since leaving HP in 2005 on the heels of an ouster off Hewlett-Packard's board. Fiorina will become a "contributor" on the new Fox Business Channel, a cable-only enterprise set up to compete with the likes of CNBC and Bloomberg TV. Fox Business News will be available to 34 million homes.

The former HP leader, the last person to hold both CEO and board chairman roles at the company, headed a 2001 campaign to prune out slow-growing Hewlett-Packard business lines. The effort accelerated in the wake of the September 2001 Compaq merger announcement, as analysts speculated which of HP's lines would be dropped to make room for Compaq businesses. The HP 3000 business received its termination from HP's futures, leaving the OpenVMS and HP-UX server lines as the only HP-designed enterprise environments.

Fiorina, whose role on Fox Business News broadcasts is still unclear, advocated an HP with fewer businesses which were growing at a faster rate. In the two-plus years since her exit, the company has acquired a handful of large corporations. The latest of these mergers, closed within the past 30 days, cost HP $1.7 billion for Neoware and Opsware.

Fiorina left HP with a $21 million severance package in 2005, then was in the running as a candidate to lead the World Bank, but was passed over. She said in a statement that she is
"pleased to have the opportunity to continue to speak out on issues of vital concern to our economy and our nation." Her name has been mentioned as a possible candidate for US Senate in California.

Now you can argue that even on its best year in the last 10, the HP 3000 business would have to work hard to earn that much in revenues. By 2001, HP wanted to invest differently than it had in products like the HP 3000. Or so it appears, since the vendor's appetite for new companies continues unabated.

Opsware cost HP almost $1.5 billion alone. These companies represent a way for HP to enter markets where it doesn't have a footprint yet, as well as acquire technology it did not invent. Not invented at HP sits very well with Hewlett-Packard in the 21st Century.  MPE/iX, created and matured and nurtured by HP for more than three decades, does not fit this business profile.

As for Fiorina, she's done her best to raise her profile beyond The Fired CEO yoke she had to wear through the balance of 2005. The next year, her book Tough Choices landed on bookshelves in both the US and Europe. (I know of the worldwide spread, because we spotted her book as shown above in a Paris bookseller's front window.)

Now with a pulpit to preach from at Fox — whose News Corp. recently acquired the Wall Street Journal for $5 billion — she will have some measure of rebuttal for the media machines which reported her demise in 2005, and then danced on her career gravesite.

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