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Fired women of HP heap scorn on the dirty old men

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The HP spy scandal has turned personal with the well-manicured female former leaders of the company striking out against the company's old boys club and the manly Mark Hurd.

With a new book to sell, former CEO Carly Fiorina hit the airwaves last night on 60 Minutes to dish dirt on the board that forced her from the company. Fiorina claims that the board members refused to face her after deciding to pick a new CEO. They didn't chastise her, they didn't thank her, and they didn't hand her a golden printer for a job well done.

"I think the way this was handled was heartless in some ways and disrespectful in other ways," Fiorina said.

She went on to portray the board's decision as being motivated more by personal conflicts than business sense. In her book, Fiorina goes further by knocking individual board members such as Tom Perkins and George Keyworth, who have since resigned over the spy scandal.

The choicest words, however, were aimed at former Compaq chief and short-term HP President Mike Capellas. The two executives appeared to have a decent relationship at times. Fiorina once approached Capellas with a monkey's care, wiping dandruff of his shoulders before a news conference. Such public displays of affection were apparently all show.

"Michael was moody and inconsistent," she writes in Tough Choices. "He could agree to something one day and object strenuously the next. He could be charming and focused. He could be rude and abusive."

Perhaps inspired by Fiorina's resolve, former chairman Patricia Dunn used the 60 Minutes venue to bash Hurd and to try and distance herself more from the HP spy disaster.

When queried as to why Hurd would place blame for the spying on her, Dunn replied, "You'd have to ask him." She also stated that Hurd's description of her actions are a "mischaracterisation" of what actually happened.

But documents released to reporters last week show Dunn as having a far more active role in the investigation. She received frequent reports on the progress of the spy probe and authorised a number of moves. Hurd was simply too lazy to read reports on the probe.

Dunn has maintained that she thought anyone could just call up a phone company and ask for someone else's records. It's an interesting stance to say the least.

Dunn also shot out at Perkins, a famed Silicon Valley venture capitalist and former HP executive, saying he "wanted me off the board". It was Perkins who made HP's leak probe public after warning the company of his concerns for months.

As usual, Fiorina declined to provide much in the way of a self-critical take on her performance as HP's chief. Instead, she claims to have set the company on the right path, leaving Hurd to claim the glory. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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