Whos Next at the HP Helm Is Anybodys Guess

Opinion: Eric Lundquist gives his picks for who will replace Carly Fiorina to run HP.

There is nothing like a quick change atop one of techs most beloved companies to rekindle the Silicon Valley soap opera.

A drawn-out executive search would not be good for Hewlett-Packard. Right or wrong, Carly Fiorina instilled a very structured approach to the disparate businesses wherein the company operated. But without the orders coming down from the CEOs office, the company faces the risk of executives heading their own way.

More important, customers want to know what the future is of the products and services on which they are building their companies. What follows is a handicapping, based on calls, e-mails and guesses, as to where the HP board will turn for its next chief.

Internal. There are three internal candidates whose names come up for the job: Vyomesh Joshi, who runs HPs printing and personal computing division; Ann Livermore, head of the Technology Solutions Group; and Shane Robison, the companys chief technology officer. All are solid executives but successful within their own divisions only. None has run a company the size and scope of HP. I dont think the HP board will go with an internal choice.

/zimages/2/28571.gifShould HP look outside the company for its new CEO? Click here to read what David Coursey thinks.

Someone from IBM. You may not have noticed, but over the last couple of years, any time a high-tech company has gotten in trouble it runs, not walks, toward Armonk to hire a tried-and-true Big Blue exec. Computer Associates, Siebel and Symantec all went to the IBM hallways to find new bosses. The problem here is that the bench is not that deep anymore.

Here are three other names Ive been hearing:

Kevin Rollins. There would be some irony here, of course. But while he has done a great job as the No. 2 at Dell, he is still the No. 2. Hes got the right stuff.

James Kilts. If the HP board is interested in disassembling the HP created under Fiorina and selling off the parts, Kilts is the guy. In the four years since hes been at Gillette, he got the house in order and then sold it off for $57 billion to Procter & Gamble. Kilts looks to get about $180 million for his efforts, which might dissuade him from taking on this challenge.

Mark Cuban. Hey, if you really want to make it big in the consumer industry, then you need buzz. Cuban can certainly supply that. In his off hours, maybe he could turn the Golden State Warriors into a winner.

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