If HP Undoes Apotheker, Might WebOS Make a Comeback?

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The New York Times has published a stunning takedown of HP’s board of directors, accusing the board of being “rife with animosities, suspicion, distrust, personal ambitions and jockeying for power that rendered it nearly dysfunctional.”

This very board, according to All Things D and Bloomberg, is thinking about ousting HP’s current CEO, Leo Apotheker, 11 months after he took the job. Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, is rumored to take his place.

(MORE: Why HP Is Getting Out of the Consumer Game)

Among the revelations in the story, which is based on unnamed sources from within the board and from HP executives:

  • Two thirds of HP’s 12-member board never met Apotheker before they hired him. Disagreements over the ousting of previous CEO Mark Hurd, who left the company amid sexual harassment allegations, left the board bitter and unable to cooperate.
  • HP’s board had trouble finding a replacement for Hurd, who was the second consecutive CEO to be ousted by the board. “Among the finalists, [Apotheker] was the best of a very unattractive group,” one director said.
  • Apotheker tended to only consult Ray Lane, HP’s chairman, for major decisions, instead of HP’s managers. And HP made some major decisions this year: The company may sell or spin off its PC business, and will stop making tablets and phones based on WebOS.

That last point is where it gets interesting even if you don’t care for the inside baseball. From the Times‘ report, I get the sense that HP’s last year has been one gigantic mistake. One could imagine a new CEO dialing back HP’s previously-stated plans to get out of the consumer market, which would mean hanging onto its PC business and maybe—just maybe—taking another stab at WebOS hardware.

It’d be a wacky outcome, but HP hasn’t proven to be above wackiness lately. This should be fun to watch.

MORE: HP’s WebOS Failure Proves It’s Hard to Be Like Apple

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