Meg Whitman to leave Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Silicon Valley veteran exits after downbeat earnings forecast

Meg Whitman became president and chief executive of HP in 2011. Photograph: Reuters

Meg Whitman became president and chief executive of HP in 2011. Photograph: Reuters

 

Meg Whitman is to step aside as chief executive at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, ending a turbulent six-year turnaround effort that eventually saw one of Silicon Valley’s formative companies broken into four different businesses.

The former eBay boss announced her planned exit late on Tuesday evening, as HPE issued a downbeat earnings forecast for the current quarter and its shares fell by as much as 7 per cent in after-hours trading.

Ms Whitman had hinted that she was looking to step back from the chief executive position after narrowly missing out on the top job at Uber this summer. At the time, she said that she had achieved the main goal she set when becoming chief in 2011, of turning around a company that was losing ground in all its main markets.

She first tried to hold HP’s disparate businesses together, before spinning off the company’s printer and PC division into the new HP Inc and shedding its software and services businesses through combinations with other companies. In a statement on Tuesday, Ms Whitman said the original HP had become “four industry-leading companies that are each well positioned to win in their respective markets”.

Below forecasts

However, HPE, the enterprise computing division she has run since the 2015 break-up, projected that it would produce earnings of only 1 to 5 cents a share in the current quarter. Even after taking account of 19 cents a share of costs linked to restructuring and amortisation, the forecast was still well below the 28 cents a share analysts had been expecting.

The company employs some 2,000 people at a site in Leixlip, Co Kildare.

Ms Whitman rejected suggestions that she had yet to prove that HPE was on the right track as it tries to become less dependent on selling servers and storage equipment and reposition itself to benefit from the rise of new cloud computing architectures.

After a series of restructurings, HPE is “far more nimble, far more agile, and frankly a much better company that it was six years ago”, she said on a call with analysts. “I think I have added a lot of value here in terms of shareholder value creation... The next leader needs to be a deeper technologist.”

– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017