Carly Fiorina's HP Legacy

She's gone public with her opinion that she took a stodgy old company and moved it forward, turning it into a leading-edge business. But look at her tenure. She took a company that was one of the most innovative of all time, one that empowers its employees, and turned it into a top-down company that was trying to profit off the PC market -- an aging business that was past its twilight. Where's the cutting edge in that?

Another fact is that the real reason Fiorina lost her job at HP was because, even as the rest of the tech industry was recovering from the dot-com bust, HP's stock remained flat -- at least until current CEO Mark Hurd came along to tear down Fiorina's infrastructure and restore company morale. In other words, Fiorina's leadership was also repudiated by both the analysts of Wall Street and thousands of average shareholders with no personal interest beyond a return on their investment.

Finally, if Fiorina was fired by a conspiracy of her board of directors, as she claims, it was a conspiracy led by her own mentor at the company, Dick Hackborn, who had convinced HP to hire her and had formerly been her greatest champion. In the end, even he turned on her.

In other words, her employees, her shareholders, industry analysts and her own board of directors repudiated Carly Fiorina's leadership of Hewlett-Packard. There is a clinical term for people who believe in such elaborate conspiracies against their own person. Meanwhile, the truth is that, for all of her post facto justifications, Carly Fiorina was a failure at Hewlett-Packard.

And there is one final fact: Corporate executives aren't fools. There are any number of corporations out there looking for a top-notch new CEO or chairman. Where are the job offers for the once "most powerful woman in American business?" Meanwhile, Fiorina has spent the last year writing her literary self-justification and touring the distant world, raking in big fees giving speeches to credulous businesspeople who only know her name, not her reputation.

Trust me, that reputation endures in Silicon Valley, where she now enjoys the title (not easy to get) of the worst CEO in Valley history. And for real Carly-hatred, you need only visit a local HP division and ask any survivor of her time with the company. Ask them what they thought of Carly Fiorina, and then you'll have your answer.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.'s "Silicon Insider" columnist, Michael S. Malone, worked at Hewlett-Packard from 1975-1979. His book, "Bill & Dave: How Hewlett and Packard Built the World's Greatest Company," will be published in Spring 2007.

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