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10/28/2010
09:45 PM
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: Can HP's CEO Survive? The Board Talks It Over

Secret surveillance reveals the HP board's contentious conversation about their legally embattled CEO, whose troubles might be only just beginning.

(Editor's Note: THIS IS SATIRE--IT DID NOT REALLY HAPPEN. Apparently, some people who read this column earlier today did not realize that it's a spoof and that the events chronicled below didn't really happen. I hope this clarification helps because I would never admit to having assets inside the NSA.)

With SAP now having decided not to contest whether its board and perhaps some of its executives might have known that a now-defunct subsidiary was stealing vast amounts of Oracle's intellectual property, the spotlight on former SAP executive and brand-new Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker will be cranked up to maximum intensity as his first week at the helm of HP coincides with the start of the incendiary Oracle-SAP damages trial.

(For the related news story, please click here.)

Hoping to listen in on the conversations the HP board is having about this bombshell, I enlisted the help of some covert assets of mine located deep within the National Security Agency—please, I can't be more specific than that—to establish top-secret listening posts in some Bay Area locations known to be frequented by the HP board members.

In the wake of this most-unwelcome news impacting HP's new CEO—who's scheduled to punch the HP clock for the first time on Monday, Nov. 1—and based on the level of board-level "chatter" my surveillance has captured, it's fair to say that the board has been seriously ratcheting up its level of concern about Apotheker's ability to stay focused on the extremely urgent business of running HP, the world's largest IT company with annual sales of about $130 billion.

Indeed, in a wonderful stroke of irony that shows how fluid the Apotheker situation has become, the folks at Reuters earlier today posted a story about HP and its incoming CEO under a headline that now seems utterly detached from reality: "Analysis: Apotheker's Job: restore stability, credibility."

Riiight. And by that measure, here's the corresponding headline for Oracle's CEO: "Larry Ellison's job: give software away, let SAP off hook."

So what follows is my transcript of the conversations I was able to capture among HP's board members about what to do about Leo—but first, so you'll know the cast of characters, here's the roster of HP's board members:

--Chairman Ray Lane, managing partner at Kleiner Perkins and former Oracle president

--Marc Andreessen, legendary tech entrepreneur and cofounder of venture firm Andreessen Horowitz

--Lawrence Babbio, senior advisor to private-equity firm Warburg Pincus

--Sari Baldauf, former Nokia executive

--Rajiv Gupta, former chairman and CEO of Rohm and Haas

--John Hammergren, chairman of McKesson Corp.

--Joel Hyatt, vice chairman of Current Media

--John Joyce, managing director at private-equity firm Silver Lake

--Robert Ryan, former executive at Medtronic Inc.

--Lucille Salhany, CEO of JHMedia

--G. Kennedy Thompson, former chairman and CEO of Wachovia

And the conversation begins:

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