Widespread reports that Hewlett-Packard intends to dismiss its chief executive after less than a year and bring in former eBay CEO Meg Whitman have caused hand-wringing across Silicon Valley and raised questions about whether the technology giant's board is "the worst ever."
Even the Reuters news agency, generally not known for being snarky, ran a story asking whether H-P is competing for the title.
"I was trying to think of another company that had tripped up that often in this many years and I found it impossible to come up with another example," Paul Hodgson, senior research associate at GovernanceMetrics International, told Reuters.
If the company announces the CEO transition as expected later today, it would be the latest in a litany of gaffes and questionable moves at the Silicon Valley stalwart, considered the largest technology company by sales ($126 billion last year) with some 325,000 employees.
HP just recently confused investors and consumers with a U-turn in strategy, killing a short-lived TouchPad product and announcing plans to possibly spin off its personal computer business. HP also has been questioned over its acquisition of British software maker Autonomy Corp., not to mention lingering concerns about a phone-tapping scandal and the dismissal of previous CEO Mark Hurd, who was caught up in a scandal over his relationship with a female contractor. A previous CEO, Carly Fiorina, lost her job after engineering a massive merger with rival PC maker Compaq Computer.
Another question being raised is whether H-P's board might have hired current CEO Leo Apotheker last year without ever meeting him. The New York Times’ James Stewart reported that most of Hewlett-Packard’s 12-member board had never met Apotheker when they selected him for the job last September. Stewart cited interviews with several board members who were not identified.
“It has got to be the worst board in the history of business," former HP director Tom Perkins, of Kleiner Perkins fame, told the Times.
But while some say HP's board may be the worst ever, others say the honor should belong to Yahoo, whose board chairman recently dismissed CEO Carol Bartz by telephone, leading her to call the directors a bunch of “doofuses” in a profanity-laced rant to Fortune.
CNBC's Jim Cramer said he favored Yahoo's board for the title of worst ever, but acknowledged that the race was probably "neck and neck."
No matter who deserves the title, we know what you're thinking: It's an honor just being nominated.
Check out Cramer's view below: