Feeds

HP's Whitman rues 'biggest failure' at eBay Japan

Site crash left fledgling firm unable to crack major market

Remote control for virtualized desktops

HP supremo Meg Whitman has admitted that one of her biggest mis-steps in business (to date) was eBay's failure to make its mark in Japan during the 1990s.

The tat bazaar had only 30 employees and revenues of around $US4 million when Whitman arrived in 1998.

At that time, Japan was the second largest internet market in the world and therefore a prime international expansion target for the fledgling company, Whitman explained to CNBC on Tuesday.

However, eBay “never really got a position in Japan”, she said.

“The story behind that is that we had that very well publicised site crash in June of 1999 … so we had to repair our existing site and therefore miss the window of opportunity in Japan,” Whitman revealed.

“It just taught me, follow your intuition. I had a sense that the technology underpinning eBay was perhaps not going to help us scale where we needed to. But we had so many other things to do and we were growing at 70 per cent monthly growth rate.”

The challenges of running HP today – “a 75 year old company trying to reassert leadership in a tough competitive business” – are significantly different from those of running that start-up “with incredible tail-wind of the internet revolution” back in the late ‘90s, Whitman claimed.

However, her tenure at both has apparently taught her the importance of focusing on customers and partners.

Since her time in charge, the venerable Silicon Valley stalwart has lost its position as number one PC vendor in the world to Lenovo, and the firm has announced plans to cull over 30,000 employees.

However, under her leadership the firm has stabilised somewhat after its disastrous interlude with Leo Apotheker at the helm and made efforts to become more channel friendly.

The jury's still out on whether her turnaround is working, however, and whether Whitman will be saying the same about HP in a few years time as she has about her eBay Japan “miss”. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
Hungary's internet tax cannot be allowed to set a precedent, says EC
More protests planned against giga-tariff for Tuesday evening
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
ISPs handbagged: BLOCK knock-off sites, rules beak
Historic trademark victory, but sunset clause applies to future blocks
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.