The ever-amusing and increasingly bizarre HP soap opera continues to play out in a predictable manner (see earlier post) with Chairwoman Patricia Dunn now immediately resigning from the Board today (versus wandering out the door in January), although passing the buck on the way out by blaming her underlings for the disaster. CEO Hurd took over the Chair seat, which is not exactly a step forward in corporate governance, especially since he admitted approving some of the allegedly illegal activities, but then said he didn't read the actual report that was created about the activities - huh? In addition to that foolishness, why does the "independent" investigator HP has appointed to look into the issue end up reporting to Hurd? How does that make any sense, although I suppose there is almost no one credible left on the board since neither the General Counsel nor outside counsel are clean in this episode. This sounds like it's going to get worse, not better, before we're done.
My father and I were discussing the saga today, and he made the astute observation that it just points out how out of touch with reality these corporate boards and executives often are. To think that there were actual conversations about planting covert operatives in newsroom cleaning staffs, sifting through peopl's trash, attempts to implant spyware on journalist machines, and the shadowing of suspected leakers around Silicon Valley - it's just staggering how a group of supposedly intelligent people could just drive the truck off the cliff.
As I have said before, I have no idea how the other HP players in this saga realistically survive this episode - it wasn't as if Dunn contacted the investigators herself. But I assume those players will be drummed out as the parade of law suits, congressional panels, and criminal investigations takes place. Plus, as an experienced tech executive told me yesterday, once a company really screws over a set of reporters, there won't be a positive article written on that company for a long time. HP could invent cold fusion this weekend, and still get shelled next week for other gaffes.
The downside to this episode is that it's not going to make it easier to recruit board members now that these guys have been dragged in the mud. The good news is that it finally pushed the option back-dating scandal off the headlines for a while - oh wait, Cablevision just admitted backdating stock options for a corpse - I guess it's back...