Hewlett-Packard’s (HPQ) board of directors has taken its lumps in the past two and a half years, roundly derided for rubber-stamping the hiring of former chief executive Leo Apotheker, approving the ill-fated Autonomy acquisition, presiding over the resulting $8.8 billion write-off, an $8 billion services-related write-down and the $1.2 billion Palm purchase.
Those blunders only added to the infamous reputation the HP board had justifiably earned in the preceding 20 years, blighted by not only infighting and seemingly precipitous decisions but also scandals and huge shakeups such as in January 2011—only a few months removed from Apotheker’s hiring—when HP’s board calved five new directors and booted out four others.
In April, amid this colorful record, Ray Lane resigned as non-executive chairman, with Ralph Whitworth taking over the slot on an interim basis, along with board members John Hammergren and G. Kennedy Thompson departing their seats.
But perhaps the worst now is over for HP’s board, as the Silicon Valley stalwart has named three new, high-profile directors, including Robert Bennett, former Liberty Media (LMCA) chief executive; Raymond Ozzie, former Microsoft (MSFT) chief software architect and Talko founder; and, James Skinner, former McDonald's (MCD) chief executive and current Walgreens (WAG) chairman. Their appointments, which are effective immediately, bring to 12 the number of members on HP’s board.
“In April, we made a pledge to recruit the very best, most talented leaders to HP’s already outstanding board,” said Whitworth. “Dob, Ray and Jim bring tremendous capital allocation, technological, operational and leadership expertise and experience to the table. I’m confident they will make enormous contributions as we support Meg and her team in rebuilding HP by better serving our customers, strengthening our partnerships and building value for our shareholders.”
Bennett will become a member of HP’s Finance and Investment Committee and the Audit Committees; Ozzie will join the Technology Committee and the Finance and Investment Committee; and Skinner will join the Audit, HR and Compensation and Nominating and Governance Committees.
“For their part, Dob, Ray and Jim have just about seen it all during their careers,” said Meg Whitman, HP president and chief executive.
HP said it will continue to look for additional directors and a permanent replacement non-executive chairman. In the interim, Whitworth will continue to serve in that capacity.