By Gautham Nagesh - 10/02/10 07:41 PM EDT
Hewlett-Packard's selection of former SAP chief executive Leo Apotheker to replace departed CEO Mark Hurd drew fierce criticism from both technology observers and shareholders on Friday.
Apotheker spent 20 years with the German software firm but lasted only seven months as chief executive before being asked to resign in February. Critics argue he is a poor successor to Hurd, who was credited with reviving HP's fortunes following the departure of former chief executive Carly Fiorina. HP's stock fell more than three percent on Friday following the Thursday evening announcement.
Hurd resigned in August following an internal investigation of improprieties concerning his expense account and an HP contractor. He was hired earlier this month as co-president of Oracle by chief executive and co-founder Larry Ellison, who blasted HP for letting Hurd go. HP responded by suing Hurd for breaching his severance agreement, prompting a settlement between the two companies.
“I’m speechless,” Ellison wrote in an email to the Wall Street Journal. “HP had several good internal candidates…but instead they pick a guy who was recently fired because he did such a bad job of running SAP.” An H-P spokeswoman told the Journal that Ellison’s comments don’t “deserve the dignity of a response.”
In addition to the turmoil inside the executive boardroom, HP has been the focus of much scrutiny with market for acquisitions heating up and more traditional hardware and software manufacturers moving into the services arena. Some have taken Apotheker's hiring as a signal HP plans on more acquisitions like its recent purchase of data storage firm 3PAR, which prompted an intense bidding war with rival Dell.