Hewlett-Packard's board chose equal parts pragmatism, aggressiveness and surprise with its hiring of Léo Apotheker as the company's new chief executive.
HP revealed Apotheker's appointment on Thursday, filling a void left when Mark V. Hurd was ousted in August. Apotheker, a German, spent 20 years at the business software maker SAP, including a recent, abbreviated stint as its chief executive. His experience meshes with HP's current strategy of dominating the business computing market and could help revitalise the company's lackluster software business.
"It is a huge privilege to be here today," Apotheker said. "HP is the iconic company of this industry, and it is a dream job that anyone would want to have."
Investors hoped that HP would tap someone capable of maintaining the company's efficient structure while also adding a fresh, innovative spark. In particular, investors had talked about finding an executive who could run the business computing side while also revitalising consumer product initiatives like HP's smartphone strategy, following its acquisition of Palm.
Wall Street gave the news a lukewarm reception, sending HP's shares down about 3 per cent to $40.82 in after-hours trading. The scrip ended trading down 1 per cent at $42.07. The stock has yet to recover from a sharp slide following Hurd's exit, and the company has lost $12.6 billion in market value since then.
Ray Lane, managing partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and former Oracle executive, was named to HP's board and will serve as non-executive chairman. The recruitment of Apotheker and Lane would seem to signal that HP planned a more forceful march into the business software market, where it would butt up against Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and SAP.