November 20, 2012 / 8:20 PM / 5 years ago

TIMELINE-HP's tumultuous decade

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Hewlett-Packard Co. is one of Silicon Valley’s iconic technology companies. But the 73-year-old company has faced a rocky road during the past decade, with a string of CEO changes and controversies that have ranged from spying on board members and journalists to Tuesday’s allegations of financial improprieties at the recently acquired Autonomy Corp.

Here is a look back at the history of HP, from its early highlights to its recent turmoil.

1939: Stanford electrical engineers Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard found the company out of a Palo Alto, California, garage with $538 and a Sears-Roebuck drill press. They decide whose name would go first with a coin toss.

Revenue is $5,369 after one year. Their first product is the resistance-capacitance audio oscillator, a version of which was sold to the Walt Disney Co. 1957: HP becomes a publicly traded company with an initial public offering of $16 per share. Revenue for the year is $28 million. 1968: HP introduces the world’s first desktop scientific calculator that stores programs on magnetic cards. Advertisements for the device call it a “personal computer,” one of the first uses of the term. 1982: HP debuts its LaserJet printer, the company’s most successful product line ever. 1989: HP turns 50. The Palo Alto garage where the company was hatched is dedicated as a state historic landmark and named “the birthplace of Silicon Valley.” HP’s annual revenue has grown to $11.9 billion, with 95,000 employees.

1995: Dave Packard publishes the “The HP Way,” a book that chronicles the history of the company and outlines its founders’ people-centric management style, which became a model adopted in part by many in Silicon Valley including companies like Apple Inc and Cisco Systems Inc.

1999: HP names Carleton (Carly) Fiorina president and chief executive. She was the first outsider appointed to lead the company and the most powerful woman in business at the time. She was the first woman to run a top-20 U.S. company. 2002: HP acquires Compaq Computer Corp in a $25 billion deal, after a contentious proxy battle that pitted Fiorina against Walter Hewlett, Bill’s son. The merger vote was seen as a key victory for Fiorina, who had drawn fire for ordering massive layoffs and for her top-down management style.

February 2005: Fiorina is ousted by a board of directors unhappy with HP’s erratic financial results and the pricey Compaq merger, which did not produce the results she promised.

March 2005: HP picks another outsider as CEO: Mark Hurd, the 48-year-old chief of NCR Corp. Though NCR is a fraction of HP’s size, Hurd is credited with reversing the fortunes of the declining automatic teller machine maker and data warehouse company.

September 2006: HP says Chairman Patricia Dunn will step down in January 2007 after coming under fire for ordering an investigation into board leaks to the media. HP had hired private detectives to pose as board members and journalists to obtain their phone records. The so-called “pretexting scandal” prompted a congressional investigation.

Hurd becomes chairman in addition to CEO.

August 2008: HP buys technology services provider Electronic Data Systems Corp for $13.9 billion to better compete with IBM . It proceeds to lay off 24,600 employees to cut costs. Aug. 6, 2010: Hurd resigns after HP accuses him of filing false expense reports to hide a relationship with a female marketing contractor. HP says it will look both externally and internally for a new CEO. Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak is appointed interim CEO. Sept. 30, 2010: HP hires Leo Apotheker, the former head of German software company SAP, as CEO. The surprise pick of Apotheker, who left SAP after just seven months at the helm amid a wave of customer complains, sends HP shares down 3 percent in after-hours trading.

Aug. 18, 2011: HP announces plans to acquire British software company Autonomy Corp for more than $11 billion, along with a new strategy to shutter HP’s mobile efforts and to potentially spin off its PC business. The Autonomy deal is greeted with widespread skepticism on Wall Street, with many questioning the rich price being paid.

Sept. 22, 2011: HP names former eBay Inc Chief Executive Meg Whitman as its president and CEO, replacing the harshly criticized Apotheker, in a bid to restore investor mconfidence in the company.

Nov. 20, 2012: HP takes a $5 billion charge, claiming a raft of improprieties, misrepresentation and disclosure failures at Autonomy. HP says it discovered “serious accounting improprieties” and “a willful effort by Autonomy to mislead shareholders” after a whistleblower came forward.

HP’s stock slides to a 10-year low, losing 11.2 percent to $11.81 in afternoon trading.

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