Opportunity for the H-P Board

Mark HurdAfter ousting HP CEO Mark Hurd for his indiscretion with a marketing contractor, falsifying expenses to conceal his relationship, and thereby failing to live up to the HP code of conduct, the Hewlett-Packard board has a chance to demonstrate to shareholders and the public that they intend to revive and enforce “tone at the top” of the storied Silicon Valley company.

Hurd and his predecessor, Carly Fiorina, who was also fired by the board, brought new meaning to the HP Way.  Certainly, it was a different company than when brilliant engineers and founders William Hewlett and David Packard were at work in the company. Their instinctive style of “managing by walking around” would be almost impossible to replicate. Fiorina, ambitious and eager to make her mark aggressively drove the Compaq merger while a subplot revealed that the HP board had its own problems as chairwoman Patricia Dunn stepped down facing felony charges. After the scandal, Hurd’s success was welcomed even if he took a cost-cutting and execution style approach to management.

With Hurd occupying both the Chairman and CEO role, Robert Ryan has served as lead director since 2008.  But it has been Mark Andreessen handling the Hurd resignation.  As the founder of another storied company, Andreessen has the gravitas to insist on a leader that not only performs well but behaves well.

Andreessen is given to greater transparency as well as sensitivity to culture and a larger group of stakeholders including investors, employees and the larger public given that he is an under-40 wildly successful entrepreneur now leading a company that provides a platform for social networking websites.

Andreessen is the spark that HP needs at this time, setting the tone and communicating what the board is doing on behalf of shareholders and stakeholders.