Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina.
Photograph by Frederic J Brown — AFP/Getty Images
By Stephen Gandel
September 26, 2015

Carly Fiorina may come from the executive suite, but that hasn’t stopped other executives from slamming her record.

The latest critique comes from Steven Rattner, a former Wall Street banker and private equity executive. Rattner, in an opinion piece in the New York Times on Saturday, called Fiorina’s time as the CEO of HP “short and disastrous.” Rattner said HP’s acquisition of Compaq, pushed through by Fiorina, caused an amount of divisiveness at the company that Rattner says he never saw in his 33-year career on Wall Street. He said that while Fiorina did serve during a tough period for tech stocks, HP’s shares did worse than rivals. And Rattner said Fiorina has correctly been named to a number of lists of worst executives of all time.

Rattner says it is perhaps unfair to criticize Fiorina for the 30,000 layoffs that happened at HP under her watch. Again, the tech sector was going through a tough time. But Rattner says voters should note that during the time of the layoffs, again a difficult time for tech and HP, Fiorina took home $100 million in compensation, and she pushed for HP to acquire five private jets.

Rattner says less attention has been paid to Fiorina’s time at Lucent, the job she had before going to HP. Fiorina was never the boss at Lucent, but Rattner says she oversaw the use of a number of aggressive sales tactics to boost revenue. Rattner says shortly after Fiorina left Lucent, the company “veered off a cliff.”

Rattner said strikingly few former colleagues have come to Fiorina’s success. And he says her own defense of comparing herself to other business leaders who were fired, like Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey, is silly. They rebounded to remarkable business success. Fiorina never did.

Rattner, to be sure, has had his own business troubles. In 2010, the former investment banker and private equity executive agreed to pay $6.2 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges that his firm used a consultant who essentially paid kickbacks to win business from a New York State pension fund. A number of other private equity firms were investigated as well, and Rattner did not admit or deny the allegations. What’s more, Rattner is not without his bias. He is a long-time democratic donor, and was recruited by the Obama administration to help it with GM and the other car companies in the wake of the bailouts.

Fortune has done it’s own analysis of Fiorina’s time as HP’s CEO.


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