HP‘s Ray Lane has quit as chairman of the HP board.
Lane was re-elected by only 58.8 percent of shareholder votes at last month’s annual meeting and he said he is cleaning out of his desk after meditating on the vote.
Lane was brought in as chairman of HP after CEO Mark Hurd was ousted in a sex and expense report scandal. He came in along with a new CEO, Leo Apotheker. Lane shook up the company’s board, ousting the directors who hired Hurd and brought in Meg Whitman.
Lane’s hold on HP was really under question after Apotheker bravely lead the company to a major disaster. Lane was an enthusiastic supporter of Apotheker’s daft idea to turn HP into SAP.
He signed off on the disastrous move to buy the British management software company Autonomy, much of the value of which has now been written off.
Lane and Apotheker were so desperate to buy the management software outfit they wrote a cheque for $11 billion without really checking if the buyout would do what they wanted.
Critics complain not enough due diligence was done before the company was bought, but even if Autonomy was not telling porkies about what it could, the idea that HP could become a software company was pretty dumb.
Lane backed Whitman for the CEO job but the damage was done.
Before joining HP, Lane was the managing partner of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, investing mostly in enterprise software companies. However, before that he was president and chief operating officer at Oracle. He left in 2000 after a big row with CEO Larry Ellison.
It appears that the Ellison and Lane clash might have continued when Lane moved to HP. After he took over as HP’s chairman, HP picked several fights with the software giant. Lane’s purge of Hurd and his mates is now even stronger as Hurd is now the president of Oracle.
Lane is staying on the board while two other directors, John Hammergren and G Kennedy Thompson are to leave.
Ralph Whitworth, a veteran shareholder activist, has been appointed interim chairman and he wants to see an “evolution” of the board. We guess he is pushing for opposable thumbs, but some think he will be lucky to manage to getting them walking upright.
The reporting of Lane’s exit is proving amusing. CNET claims that it is all because he was spotted using Apple gear in 2011 and stood by while the PC was replaced by the iPhone and tablets. Apparently losing $11 billion of company’s money is nothing in comparison to using a rival’s technology.