HP's Board Hired Its Failed CEO Without Even Meeting Him First

Yesterday I argued that HP's board would be rash to fire embattled CEO Léo Apotheker at this point in the game, since surely they knew what they were getting when they hired him. Oops! Joke's on me. Most of them had never even met him.

As James Stewart reveals in this morning's New York Times, just four members of the HP board bothered interviewing Apotheker before bringing him on board, and most of the remaining eight never met him in person. Here's the part where you laugh to keep from crying:

Before a final vote on Mr. Apotheker, H.P. search committee members again urged other directors to meet him. No one took them up. At least one director, Ms. Salhany, tried to slow the process, worrying aloud that "no one has ever met him. Are we sure?" But her concerns were brushed aside. "Among the finalists, he was the best of a very unattractive group," one director said.

Board members also had limited recall of Apotheker's tenure at SAP—and the copyright infringement allegations leveled at that company.

Okay, so let me revise what I was saying yesterday. Fire Apotheker, sure. But not before you fire the board that hired a CEO without so much due diligence as a handshake. [NY Times]