A Reader Horror Story About Carly Fiorina's Old Company, Hewlett-Packard

Illustration for article titled A Reader Horror Story About Carly Fiorina's Old Company, Hewlett-Packard

Republican Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorina was fired as CEO of Hewlett-Packard in 2005, after stock prices plummeted by half and she laid off 30,000 workers. Now HP is back in the news with more mass layoffs, and a Gizmodo reader wrote in with how bad it really is.


The media is having a field day fact-checking Fiorina’s claims concerning her HP record. The New York Times accuses her of using “fuzzy math” to obscure the damage done under her tenure, including the acquisition of Compaq, now seen by many analysts as a bad move. Her executive experience in this arena should not be touted, as she did during her first primetime debate.

Since Fiorina’s board-induced departure, Hewlett-Packard hasn’t fared much better. HP is set to lose another 30,000 jobs as it splits into two units—one with a focus on personal computing, and the other on software. The company has hemorrhaged jobs in the thousands in the run-up to the split.

In response to my call for nightmare tales of working at a tech giant, reader showbiz2 started out by trying to keep their company anonymous, but it was quickly identified by other commenters. Of the current environment at HP, showbiz2 relates:

The company is bleeding people so badly in 6 months even the shareholders will say “yeah, maybe you should hire some folks....” It boils down to this: long-term employees required to be in certain locations for the business, are being shown the door and given very little time to train replacements for groups of dozens of people. no decent transition, just “train them and get the fuck out.”

It’s seriously fucked up. I’ve been through other tech declines, like Telcom back in late 90’s, but I have never seen people axed in this way, for these reasons.

The sad thing is, there really is no need to do this. There are choices that are being made that are really really questionable, bordering on illegal. Are you disabled and can’t drive 6 hours one way to get to an office where you haven’t had to go in 20 years? Yeah, fuck you, wheelchair crip, get to the office or your fired. Oh, I see you didn’t badge in today, we need to talk.

Meg [Whitman, the current CEO], who is part of Chris Christie’s election team, is fucking that company’s future worse than Carly did, and the ones after Carly. Again, I wouldn’t want to be a shareholder. The cuts are far too deep on this one, never seen anything like it before.

Commenter ArtistAtLarge replied:

Couldn’t happen to a more deserving company. I know people working at their server plant in Houston who haven’t had a raise is 6 years. Why they stay is even an even bigger “WTF”. One excuse I heard was because they wanted to keep their pensions. I didn’t have the heart to tell they weren’t going to get squat.


We knew things were bad at HP, but we hadn’t realized the dehumanizing extent. If you’re at HP and want to share more about what’s going on, let us know in the comments or email us at tellgiz@gizmodo.com. If you have stories from Fiorina’s tenure, spill ‘em. It’s unnerving that someone with such a poor chief executive business record thinks they’re qualified to be the chief executive of the nation. As for the current leaders of HP, it sounds like they need to be pilloried by the media even more than Fiorina.

[New York Times; Industry Week; Gizmodo]

Top image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images




I worked as a contractor for HP during Carly’s reign of terror. It was sad to see a company that had such a strong core of innovative technology professionals start to bleed talent like arterial gash. On my first day, we had to watch a fantastic video that described the culture at HP (Politics has no place in a garage, HAH!), and subsequently find out that in practice none of the old “HP Ways” mattered.

We had spent months building a solid, efficient and effective internal helpdesk for north, south and central america, only to have them move it to Costa Rica where they could hire 4 people for the price of one of us. The way it was done was the worst part, despite being THE tier 1 and 2 helpdesk for all HP employees in the Americas, we the employees figured out the cuts before the company had the guts to say anything. Following that, someone sent an anonymous email listing all their plans nd just how long this had been in the works (not agreeing with Carly’s methods of operation), which made it very difficult to retain anyone during the transition.

It was sweet to hear afterwards just how useless the internal helpdesk became from people still at HP. I’m still astounded that Carly and her team thought messing with the internal helpdesk was a quick way to save a buck. The entire company relies on those services and a shoddy helpdesk is expensive in ways the beancounters apparently can’t calculate.