Business

WhitTVman to head mobile-first media platform

Megflix anyone? Outgoing HPE boss finds new raison d'etre

By Paul Kunert

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Outgoing Hewlett Packard Enterprise chief Meg Whitman is stepping out of tech and into the big chair at a "mobile-first media platform" startup.

Whitman, who spent the past six-and-a-bit years dismantling HP, will grab the controls at NewTV from 1 March, a business started by Dreamworks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg.

"Meg is one of the most accomplished and sought-after executives of our time. She has built and scaled some of the most important global companies today,” her soon-to-be new boss said in prepared remark.

The ambition is for NewTV, based in Los Angeles, to produce ten-minute or less Hollywood style productions for viewing on a portable device.

Whitman described the startup as one of the most "timely" and "disruptive" concepts she’d encountered during her three decades in business, and she certainly knows all about disruption.

She was made HP CEO in 2011 and after a period of insisting the company was better together as "One HP", she made the first of many U-turns to set about breaking up the group.

First off the PC and printer business was spun into a new independently listed organisation, HP Inc. And then the outsourcing and software division were offloaded.

HP employed a little fewer than 350k,000 staff when Whitman took charge and before she presided over a mammoth cost-cutting task that involved redundancies of some 100k plus employees. This and the multiple spin-offs left HPE with 45k staff. HP Inc has 49k.

The last major job of work from Whitman was to conjure up HPE Next: overhauling processes, investments, people, the corporate structure and cutting overheads.

In the press release – which has to be seen to be believed – NewTV talked about how Whitman grew eBay from 30 staff to 15,000 during her years in charge from 1998 to 2008, taking revenues from $4m to $8bn. No such detail was mentioned with respect to her time at the top of HP, where sales drooped from the high of $110bn plus.

Reports indicated her latest venture, NewTV, is trying to raise $2bn from potential investors, but if it doesn’t go according to plan, Whitman is worth $3.1bn. It’s always sweeter to play with someone else’s money though.

And if the NewTV job doesn’t work out, there’s always the potential to return to politics - Whitman ran for governor in California but missed out. If only she could make more friends in the media… ®

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