John Chambers, chief executive officer of Cisco Systems, supported Meg Whitman when she ran for governor of California. But he would have discouraged her from becoming CEO of Hewlett-Packard, he said today.
“I like Meg Whitman a lot,” Chambers said in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. “She’s doing this purely out of the goodness of her heart and I would have told her not to.”
Whitman probably feels like she owes it to Silicon Valley to try and revive the icon, but “that’s a hard hand to play,” he said. Hewlett-Packard missed an opportunity to lead in several industry transitions, including mobile products, video and cloud computing, Chambers said.
Hewlett-Packard has been ceding market share to competitors during two years of management upheaval and troubled acquisitions. Whitman, a year into the CEO role, has cut jobs and is planning to focus a new product lineup on corporate clients.
Will she succeed?
“It’s hard,” Chambers said. “Mathematically, you have to say low odds.”
“Name me a company that has ever gone through five CEOs, and the fifth CEO has turned it around,” he said, referring to the departure of several chief executives in a matter of years.
Michael Thacker, spokesman for HP, declined to comment.