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- Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s CEO, Meg Whitman, is stepping down in February.
- She will be replaced by Antonio Neri, the current president of HPE.
- Whitman, who joined HPE’s predecessor, Hewlett-Packard, in 2011, was recently identified as being in the running to be the CEO of Uber, though she ultimately did not get that job.
Meg Whitman, the veteran Silicon Valley executive who steered Hewlett Packard Enterprise through its recent spinoff, will resign in February – an unexpected announcement that comes several months after she was identified as interviewing for the CEO job at Uber, though she ultimately did not get it.
Whitman will be replaced by Antonio Neri, currently the president of HPE, but she will remain on the board of directors.
Shares of HPE, which also reported quarterly results on Tuesday, were down 6.6% in after-hours trading.
Whitman, 61, has taken HPE through some drastic changes since she joined in 2011 as the CEO of what was known as Hewlett-Packard. She has conducted layoffs that sliced tens of thousands of employees from HPE, with more layoffs expected.
She split the venerable company into HP Inc., the PC-and-printer company, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which made servers and other computer-networking wares for large companies. She captained HPE, while Dion Weisler took over HP Inc.
She also split off several other HPE business units, including its consulting and services business and its software business, often taking a stake in a partnership.
“Now is the right time for Antonio and a new generation of leaders to take the reins of HPE,” Whitman said in a statement announcing her departure.
HPE did not immediately respond to questions about the cause of Whitman’s resignation or her plans, nor did it make Whitman available for an interview.
From tech to politics and back again
Whitman became one of Silicon Valley’s best-known executives in the 1990s, when she left the toymaker Hasbro to join eBay, then a fledgling startup with 30 employees and $4 million in revenue.
Ten years later, she had turned eBay into one of the internet’s most recognizable brands, with $8 billion in revenue.
Whitman famously ran for California governor on the Republican ticket in 2010 and lost to Jerry Brown. She spent more of her own money on the race than any other self-funded political candidate in US history at the time – $144 million of her money out of the $178.5 million raised.
Her move to HP in 2011 took her to a company facing troubled times, having churned through a succession of CEOs and straining under a load of debt, especially from its troubled $11 billion acquisition of Autonomy.
More recently, Whitman acknowledged in August that she had interviewed for the CEO position at Uber, which went to Dara Khosrowshahi. However, she had continually promised that she was committed to HPE.
In September, when HPE reported fiscal third-quarter results, she said, “Lots more work to do, and I actually am not going anywhere.”
When news broke that she was on the shortlist for the job, the scuttlebutt was that it wouldn’t bode well for her long-term prospects at HPE, as it indicated a lack of commitment to a company that was paying her well and to her strategy of breaking HP into smaller pieces, the San Francisco Chronicle reported in August.
Neri will receive an annual base salary of $1 million when he becomes CEO, with a target annual cash bonus of 150% base salary, HPE disclosed in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.
Here’s the press release announcing Whitman’s departure:
Hewlett Packard Enterprise Announces Antonio Neri to Succeed Meg Whitman as Chief Executive Officer
PALO ALTO, Calif., Nov. 21, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE:HPE) today announced that, effective February 1, 2018, Antonio Neri, current President of HPE, will become President and Chief Executive Officer, and will join the HPE Board of Directors. Meg Whitman, current Chief Executive Officer, will remain on the HPE Board of Directors.
“I’m incredibly proud of all we’ve accomplished since I joined HP in 2011. Today, Hewlett Packard moves forward as four industry-leading companies that are each well positioned to win in their respective markets,” said Meg Whitman, CEO of HPE. “Now is the right time for Antonio and a new generation of leaders to take the reins of HPE. I have tremendous confidence that they will continue to build a great company that will thrive well into the future.”
Meg Whitman was appointed President and CEO of HP in September 2011. Since then, she has executed against a five-year turnaround strategy that has repositioned the company to better compete and win in today’s environment. Under her leadership, the company rebuilt its balance sheet, reignited innovation, strengthened operations and improved customer and partner satisfaction. It also made strategic moves to focus and strengthen its portfolio, most notably its separation from HP Inc., which was the largest corporate separation in history. She also led the subsequent spin off and mergers of HPE’s Enterprise Services and Software businesses, as well as strategic acquisitions including Aruba, SGI, SimpliVity and Nimble Storage.
Under Whitman’s leadership, significant shareholder value has been created, including nearly $18 billion in share repurchases and dividends. Since the birth of HPE on November 2, 2015, the company has delivered a total shareholder return of 89 percent, which is more than three times that of the S&P 500.
During the past six years, Meg has worked tirelessly to bring stability, strength and resiliency back to an iconic company,” said Pat Russo, Chairman of HPE’s Board of Directors. “Antonio is an HPE veteran with a passion for the company’s customers, partners, employees and culture. He has worked at Meg’s side and is the right person to deliver on the vision the company has laid out.”
Neri, 50, joined HP in 1995 as a customer service engineer in the EMEA call center. He went on to hold various roles in HP’s Printing business and then to run customer service for HP’s Personal Systems unit. In 2011, Neri began running the company’s Technology Services business, then its Server and Networking business units, before running all of Enterprise Group beginning in 2015. As the leader for HPE’s largest business segment, comprising server, storage, networking and services solutions, Neri was responsible for setting the R&D agenda, bringing innovations to market, and go-to-market strategy and execution. Neri was appointed President of HPE in June 2017. In addition to leading the company’s four primary lines of business, as President, Neri has been responsible for HPE Next, a program to accelerate the company’s core performance and competitiveness.
“The world of technology is changing fast, and we’ve architected HPE to take advantage of where we see the markets heading,” said Antonio Neri, President of HPE. “HPE is in a tremendous position to win, and we remain focused on executing our strategy, driving our innovation agenda, and delivering the next wave of shareholder value.”
HPE’s strategy is based on three pillars. First, making Hybrid IT simple through its offerings in the traditional data center, software-defined infrastructure, systems software, private cloud and through cloud partnerships. Second, powering the Intelligent Edge through offerings from Aruba in Campus and Branch networking, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) with products like Edgeline and its Universal IoT software platform. Third, providing the services that are critical to customers today, including Advisory, Professional and Operational Services.