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Why Fiorina wasn't the right man for the HP CEO post

Hurd is a cut above

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And ninethly Jealousy is indeed a poor medium to secure love, but it is a secure medium to destroy one's self-respect. For jealous people, like dope-fiends, stoop to the lowest level and in the end inspire only disgust and loathing - Emma Goldman

There's nothing sexist about admitting defeat. Congratulations to HP's board for recognizing that fact.

HP's immediate fate now lies in the hands of a wholesome company man. Twenty-five year NCR veteran Mark Hurd sold cash machines and bean counters. He's dependable - rock solid. He's the kind of guy you want standing between the women and children when the bank robbers arrive. He'd take the bullet or at least broker a sturdy deal. Even a cursory glance at Hurd's outstanding book reveals his dependable traits.

The dirty secret that you won't find in other reports is that Carly Fiorina was not the type of person you want to shove in front of the bank robbers. She was pomp, circumstance and puffy hair. And jewelry. . . And slimming pants.

Fiorina went to Stanford and studied Hegel. She mingled with lude-popping, morally bankrupt future ACLU attorneys. Hurd attended a decent Baptist school in Baylor University where he studied business or bidness, if you prefer. He's a proud member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity (PDF) - something a creature of Fiorina's ilk can only dream about.

This isn't to say a woman can't handle all that running a major, major corporation demands. Look at eBay's Meg Whitman. (Just don't look too long.)

It's really more that Fiorina wasn't the right woman for the job. She could be firm at times but at others she was positively drippy, droning on and on about some soft "vision" when action was required. Many of the papers are saying Fiorina garnered too much attention and was too flashy. She had a "celebrity aura." But we all know what they really mean. This is a polite out. Fiorina was inadequate. People in Baylor country call it weak. Ask W.

"On Feb. 9, directors ousted Fiorina, a marketing executive who spearheaded the company's $19 billion acquisition of Compaq Computer Co., saying they didn't have a problem with the business strategy - only that she didn't execute it quickly enough," the AP reported this week.

Uh huh. Toss that reporter a skirt and have him swish around. Carly could probably use a dance.

Let's all flex our honesty here and call this game the right way. The geniuses in charge of HP back in 1999 thought it would be cute and "proactive" to hire a "here's my high heel in your back as I climb the corporate ladder" lady as CEO of one of America's largest, most respected companies. They were high on the same La-La juice stoning all of Silicon Valley. How darling. How impressive. How shocking. Oh the attention.

But eventually that high wears off and there's nothing but puke and pain left. If you're lucky, the puke ends up in the toilet and no one knows about it. If you're not lucky, you've just coughed up a ham sandwich on an office conference table and all your gossipy, sally enemies are sprinting toward the boss to tell him about it. That's the kind of sick we're talking about with Carly. That's the kind of sick that demands a pure-hearted nobody janitor who is too busy reading 10-Ks to finish his beer or get a manicure.

It's nice to give the pendulum a push now and again and see how far it'll go. But when the mechanism starts tipping, the dress-up game has to stop, and you have to call in a tough guy - a real man - to clean up the mess.

Now to get this acid out of my throat. ®

Bootnote: Otto Z. Stern has impressed The Register so much with his trenchant observations that he is joining the publication as a regular columnist.

Otto Z. Stern is a director at The Institute of Technological Values - a think tank dedicated to a more moral digital age. He has closely monitored the IT industry's intersection with America's role as a world leader for thirty years. You can find Stern at his solar-powered compound somewhere in the Great American Southwest.

Related stories

HP makes Hurd the $20m man
Never Hurd of the new HP boss?
HP bets on the Hurd mentality for CEO

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