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Artificial Intelligence: Article

HP Picked Apotheker over Five Others

No one else was offered the job

HP's board had five other finalists that "could have done" the CEO's job besides Léo Apotheker, according to what HP's lead outside director Robert Ryan said in answer to a question during a conference call with Wall Street Friday morning, but it unanimously picked SAP's castoff CEO as the "very best" choice.

No one else was offered the job.

Ryan claimed the company conducted a "thorough and deliberate process" and searched "far and wide" to fill what was "a very desirable job."

In response Wall Street, wondering if Apotheker was really the best the largest technology company in history could have done, pushed HP's stock price lower. It has yet to recover from the shock of losing Mark Hurd and was down mid-morning around 4%, the whole experience sheering billions off the stock.

Apotheker's performance during the call was undistinguished, offering no sweeping view of the industry, only pat phrases.

He declined to comment on Oracle's hardware/software strategy per se but said something about "mass disruption" that's "good for HP" apparently as a driver of cohesion.

He seems to think that HP should "continue to execute the way it's been executing."

When asked about the stock price, he said HP was an "undervalued property," but offered no way to enhance it.

When asked how he was going to move HP forward he said that the company was well grounded in hardware but "less grounded in software" - software being the "glue" that holds all HP's parts together - suggesting that he had learned between yesterday and today not to depreciate his software background as possibly his chief contribution to the company - but when asked about the holes in HP's software stack, he said it was "so diverse" it was "too early to say."

When asked how he was going to keep the internal candidates for the job from bolting, he said he had talked to them first and that he was "sure they will be working together for many years" to come.

It is unclear how much headquarters will see of him after he starts next month - unlike Hurd who started right away - because he means to "travel around the world" speaking to HP people (oh, yes, and customers and shareholders too) to learn the ropes "as rapidly as possible."

Apotheker is to get a salary of $1.2 million, a $4 million signing bonus, a package involving about 884,00 restricted shares, cash incentives worth 200%-500% of his base salary for meeting performance goals and $4.6 million for relocating to the US although he's keeping his house in Paris.

There are widely held doubts how long Apotheker will be with HP.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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