By Poornima Gupta and Sinead Carew
SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK, July 15 Hewlett-Packard
Co on Monday appointed three big-name directors,
including former Microsoft Corp software chief Raymond
Ozzie and former McDonald's Corp Chief Executive James
Skinner, as the struggling PC maker searches for a chairman and
addresses top-level stumbles of past years.
The PC maker, which has been trying to strengthen its board
after years of leadership calamities, also named Robert Bennett,
former CEO of Liberty Media Corp and said it will
continue searching for more directors. It is also looking for a
permanent nonexecutive chairman to succeed Ralph Whitworth, who
holds the position on an interim basis.
Monday's appointments increase the size of HP's board to 12
Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman is trying to turn around
HP's operations, while Whitworth, who heads activist hedge fund
Relational Investors, promised board changes when he took the
job in April. Previous Chairman Ray Lane resigned as the
chairman after he came under fire from shareholders for his role
in HP's disastrous acquisition of British software company
Autonomy Plc. Lane remains a director at HP.
HP's leadership has been in tumult since the 2010 departure
of CEO Mark Hurd over sexual harassment allegations, which he
has denied. Current CEO Whitman took the top job in September
2011 after predecessor Leo Apotheker's brief stint, which was
marked by slashed earnings forecasts and a plunge in the
company's share price.
Lane also overhauled the board in early 2011, months after
In 2012, HP had to take a multibillion-dollar writedown for
its takeover of Autonomy, enraging investors. The deal capped a
tumultuous decade for the company that included the 2006
"pretexting" scandal, which led to the resignation of
then-Chairwoman Patricia Dunn.
Monday's appointment of well-known directors to HP's board
appeared to be an effort to answer shareholders' longstanding
cries for a stronger board.
OZZIE'S POST-PC WORLD VISION
Ozzie, the software guru whom Microsoft founder Bill Gates
designated as the company's big-picture thinker, left the
company in 2010 to start Talko Inc, which focuses on mobile
communications applications and services.
When departing from Microsoft, Ozzie urged Microsoft to move
on from its Windows and Office roots and imagine a "post-PC
world" of simple, global Web devices.
The addition of the author of the now famous "Internet
Services Disruption" memo which he evangelized now-common cloud
computing -- and which he wrote shortly after joining Microsoft
in 2005 -- comes as HP is trying to adjust to shrinking PC
sales. China's Lenovo Group Ltd overtook HP as
the world's top PC maker in the latest quarter.
Skinner was credited with turning around McDonald's during
his time as CEO from November 2004 until 2012 and that company's
share price tripled during his tenure. He is also chairman of
drugstore chain Walgreen Co.
Bennett will join the finance and investment committee and
its audit committee.
Ozzie will join the technology committee and the finance and
investment committee. Skinner will join committees governing
audit, human resources and compensation, and governance.
HP shares were up 20 cents at $26.39 on the New York Stock