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Rumor: HP giving Apotheker Das Boot

Former eBay CEO Whitman to step in?

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It looks like Leo Apotheker's tumultuous time at the helm of IT behemoth Hewlett-Packard could be drawing to a close.

Both Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that HP board of directors has scheduled a meeting to consider giving Apotheker the boot after only 11 months on the job and replacing him, possibly on an interim basis, with new HP board member, Meg Whitman.

Whitman joined the HP board in January after a failed run to become governor of California and was, of course, the longtime CEO of online auctioneer eBay. As well as her dutuies at HP Whitman also works part-time for Silicon Valley venture capitalist Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

The Bloomberg report says that "a significant contingent" of the HP board wants to remove Apotheker after some bad moves. The report did not elaborate on what these missteps were. But getting into a legal spat with Oracle over the fate of the Itanium processor at the heart of HP's enterprise servers has not been good for business.

Meanwhile, the $10.3bn acquisition of British software company Autonomy is a bit perplexing and very expensive for the value it brings to the company. And HP has not handled its proposed spinoff of the PC business very well. Apotheker was also in charge when HP decided to spike the idea of running the webOS mobile operating system on PCs and other devices, basically nullifying the $1.2bn acquisition of Palm.

An HP spokesman contacted by El Reg said the company was unable to comment about the rumors.

Apotheker was once co-CEO at enterprise software giant SAP – an HP partner like Oracle used to be and a strong Oracle rival – but was let go from that position after a number of bad moves, including trying to raise maintenance prices drastically during the Great Recession.

He was named president and CEO of HP last September 30 after the ousting of Mark Hurd, who was shown the door at HP in August 2010 for reasons that were never fully explained, and which probably only relate tangentially to a sexual harassment lawsuit that was settled by Hurd and some expense reports that were not completed correctly. Hurd was hired as co-president at Oracle by his tennis buddy, Oracle co-founder and CEO Larry Ellison, five weeks later. ®

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