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Leo Apotheker’s 11-Month Rise and Fall as CEO of Hewlett-Packard: Timeline

By Xu Wang
September 23, 2011 12:01 AM EDT

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) ousted Chief Executive Officer Leo Apotheker yesterday, tapping director and former EBay Inc. CEO Meg Whitman to replace him. Before Sept. 21, when Bloomberg reported that he might be fired, the company’s stock had plunged 47 percent on his watch. The following timeline chronicles Apotheker’s tenure.

Feb. 7, 2010: Apotheker resigns from SAP AG after 10 months as CEO. He presided over SAP’s first annual revenue decline since 2003 as customers, hit by the recession, delayed software purchases. During his time as CEO, SAP slashed more than 3,000 jobs, its first major cuts since the company was created.

Aug. 6, 2010: Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd resigns after an investigation found he had a personal relationship with a contractor who received numerous inappropriate payments from the company. Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak takes over as interim CEO.

Aug. 9, 2010: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison says “the HP board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs,” by forcing out Hurd, Ellison’s friend.

Sept. 6, 2010: Oracle Corp. hires Hurd as a president and board member, reporting to Ellison.

Sept. 7, 2010: Hewlett-Packard sues to block Hurd from working at Oracle, saying the appointment may cause Hewlett-Packard to lose customers, trade secrets and its competitive advantage.

Sept. 20, 2010: Hewlett-Packard and Oracle say they resolved litigation over Hurd’s job at Oracle.

Sept. 30, 2010: Hewlett-Packard names Apotheker president and CEO. It also appoints Ray Lane, a managing partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, as chairman.

Oct. 1, 2010: Ellison tells the Wall Street Journal that “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.” He adds, “The HP board needs to resign en masse...right away. The madness must stop.”

Jan. 5, 2011: Hewlett-Packard Chief Marketing Officer Michael Mendenhall resigns, replaced by Bill Wohl, a vice president for communications at SAP.

Jan. 20, 2011: Hewlett-Packard announces a board shakeup in the wake of criticism over the way it handled Hurd’s departure. Four directors leave, and Whitman is among five new members named. Whitman joins the board after a failed bid to become California’s governor.

Feb. 9, 2011: Hewlett-Packard unveils the TouchPad tablet computer, which runs the WebOS software it acquired in its purchase of Palm Inc. in 2010 for $1.2 billion.

Feb. 22, 2011: Hewlett-Packard lowers its 2011 revenue forecast to $130 billion to $131.5 billion, the first of three reductions under Apotheker. The company also misses analysts’ estimates with its second-quarter sales and profit projections. Shares plunge the most in more than six years when markets open the next day.

March 9, 2011: Apotheker says he will put WebOS software in every PC shipped by Hewlett-Packard. He also plans to use acquisitions to expand in software and will reverse Hurd’s emphasis on cost-cutting. “HP has lost its soul,” he says.

March 14, 2011: Apotheker raises Hewlett-Packard’s dividend for the first time since 1998, increasing it 50 percent to 12 cents a share. The company also announces plans to introduce a cloud- computing service.

March 22, 2011: Oracle says it will stop all software development on Intel Corp.’s Itanium chip, a product Hewlett- Packard uses in its servers. Oracle gained a rival chip called Sparc through its 2010 purchase of Sun Microsystems Inc.

March 23, 2011: Hewlett-Packard, the biggest producer of servers that use Itanium, says Oracle’s plan to drop support for the chip is a “shameless gambit” that jeopardizes customers and will cost hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity.

April 18, 2011: Hewlett-Packard says Thomas Hogan, executive vice president for enterprise business sales and marketing, has decided to leave. Jan Zadak will assume that role on May 1, the company says.

May 17, 2011: Hewlett-Packard cuts its fiscal 2011 sales forecast for the second time on Apotheker’s watch, to a range of $129 billion to $130 billion. The company also forecasts full- year earnings excluding some items that missed analysts’ estimates as consumers shun PCs and services margins narrow.

May 20, 2011: Hewlett-Packard Senior Vice President Marius Haas is departing for private-equity firm KKR & Co., two people familiar with the matter say.

June 1, 2011: Leo Apotheker says Hewlett-Packard will consider licensing the WebOS software to other device manufacturers.

June 8, 2011: Hewlett-Packard sends a letter to Oracle demanding that the software maker keep supporting Intel’s Itanium chip.

June 15, 2011: Hewlett-Packard sues Oracle, claiming that Oracle has moved from partner to “bitter antagonist.” The suit cites Oracle’s hiring of Hurd last year, and the announcement that it would no longer support its database software on Hewlett-Packard servers that use the Itanium chip.

June 29, 2011: Oracle asks a California judge to reject an effort by Hewlett-Packard to seal court filings in the lawsuit over Hurd and the Itanium chip.

July 11, 2011: Apotheker reorganizes the PC unit as part of a push to broaden use of the WebOS software gained in its Palm acquisition. Jon Rubinstein, Palm’s former CEO, is put in charge of product development for PCs, tablets and smartphones. Senior Vice President Stephen DeWitt is tapped to lead a new unit devoted to expanding use of WebOS.

July 21, 2011: Hewlett-Packard says it will buy back $10 billion of its stock to buoy its languishing shares. Before the announcement, the shares had dropped 14 percent in 2011.

Aug. 18, 2011: In a sweeping overhaul, Hewlett-Packard agrees to buy software maker Autonomy Corp. for $10.3 billion and says it is considering a spinoff of its PC unit. The company also discontinues products running WebOS. Apotheker trims the fiscal 2011 sales forecast for the third time, to a range of $127.2 billion to $127.6 billion.

Aug. 30, 2011: Oracle accuses Hewlett-Packard of fraud and libel, saying a settlement agreement between the two companies over Oracle’s hiring of Hurd was unfair. Oracle also claims Hewlett-Packard defamed the company by saying it bullies customers.

Sept. 9, 2011: Dominique Senequier, a director with ties to Apotheker, will leave the board in March, Hewlett-Packard says in a regulatory filing.

Sept. 22, 2011: Hewlett-Packard names Whitman as CEO, and Chairman Ray Lane becomes executive chairman. During her decade as CEO at EBay, she took the company public and pioneered e- commerce for small businesses. Yet in the final years of her tenure, she couldn’t halt a slowdown in sales growth.

To contact the reporter on this story: Xu Wang in New York at xwang206@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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