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Five outsiders who could lead Hewlett-Packard

Chris Kanaracus | Sept. 25, 2011
Having gone through a rash of CEOs in the past 10 to 15 years, Hewlett-Packard may soon find itself looking for yet another new chief.

Salesforce.com, known for its array of cloud-based software, has experienced dramatic growth but its profits remain relatively small compared to revenue. That's not necessarily a knock against Benioff, given that Salesforce.com is still "investing in growth initiatives," Hamerman said.

But there are some factors going against Benioff as head of HP, namely the fact that he likely couldn't be lured by money given his already substantial net worth, Hamerman added.

Moreover, "he's had no experience with [HP's] kind of problem," Scavo said. "He's an entrepreneur. HP is the antithesis of a startup. He's good at a lot of things, but he's never been through something like this."

"Marc would be a great addition just in terms of vision and morale and the ability to attract talent in the Valley," Wang said. And money may not be a motivator for Benioff.

"This is about the challenge, making the transformation," he said. "I don't know if he would want that challenge, but an acquisition of Salesforce.com would bring him aboard."

3. Charles Phillips, CEO, Infor, and a former Oracle co-president.

Phillips is known for his cool, crisp demeanor and his role in architecting Oracle's vast array of acquisitions. And as a former financial analyst, he is "highly credible with the investment community," Scavo said. "HP could certainly use someone credible at the top."

He left Oracle last year under what are understood to be generally agreeable terms, despite a scandal involving billboards around the U.S. that bore romantic photos of Phillips and a woman to whom he was not married. Phillips later confirmed that he and the woman had a "serious relationship," which he said had ended.

Phillips has long since moved on from that episode and spent the past year or so launching a reinvention of Infor's software portfolio and continuing his yen for acquisitions with the purchase of Lawson Software.

While Infor is the third-largest ERP (enterprise resource planning) software vendor after SAP and Oracle, it's no HP in terms of prominence. For an executive like Phillips, whose name was cast about at times as a potential successor to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison , the top job at HP may be a tempting prize.

But while Phillips may know business software inside and out, he only had a short time to get acquainted with hardware after Oracle bought Sun Microsystems in early 2010. That may be a problem for him as CEO of HP, which still derives only a tiny percentage of revenue from software.

"He's a software executive, and HP is not a software company," Hamerman said.

But Wang held a different view, saying HP would likely be in solid hands from an operational standpoint with Phillips at the helm. "Charles is the executor."

 

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