So now Carly's weighed into the ever mushrooming HP debacle, this time with her new book, Tough Choices. The San Jose Mercury News carried a story about the 309-page book at the top of the front page today Mercury News Review How many books get this kind of publicity? And could Carly's timing have been any better with the pretexting corporate spying scandal still simmering, and the chairman of HP's board being hit with criminal charges this week?
Tough Choices, to be released next week by Penquin, describes a weak-kneed, dysfuntional board that couldn't make decisions, and refused to face up to reality. Lew Platt, for one, was picked out to be heavy handed and ruled HP pre-Carly like a sort of bull in a china shop. Other board members were said to be petty, agenda-driven, cowardly, and worse.
Carly's $21 million severance package must have eased the pain a little. She, of course, comes off like a misunderstood heroine, out to reshape and save an aging company that badly needed new direction. The board was too dense to get it, and turned on her wickedly, firing her prematurely, she claims.
``I was deeply sad that fellow board members I had known and trusted would not pay me the simple respect of looking me in the eye and telling me the truth. I felt betrayed.''
There's a lot more to the book than this, going back to her childhood days..but most of the press is focused on the parts that might shine new light on HP's messy scandal and a board-driven investigation gone awry. Carly even showed up on the evening news this week, an excerpt from this weekend's 60 Minutes TV show, saying she was shocked that HP launched such a bizarre investigation. But turns out she launched her own investigation when the board was leaking info to the press during her reign, asking HP's legal counsel to get to the bottom of it. Guess some investigations are ok.
The book doesn't have any lightning rod discoveries--most of the world already knows this is not a harmonious board, that Carly and the board clashed, that the Compaq merger divided the company and so on. But it does fill in a few holes left from earlier books on the merger battle--Backfire by Peter Burrows and Perfect Enough by George Anders (both excellent books). Silicon Valley soap operas don't get much better than this.
Be sure to tune into 60 Minutes Sunday.
Meanwhile, this adds to the tidal wave of weird publicity for HP, a company once known for being buttoned down and cautious by Silicon Valley standards. 2007 can't come soon enough for Mark Hurd.