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CEO Daily: Wednesday, September 16

September 16, 2015

The once-proud company called Hewlett-Packard continues its long, slow decline, with an announcement it will lay off 28,000 to 33,000 people, or ten percent of its workforce, as part of its plan to split the company in two in November. That comes on top of 50,000 cuts that have already occurred.

 

CEO Meg Whitman, not one to sugar coat things, stopped short of saying there won’t be more layoffs. “A big step forward will be if enterprise services can stop shrinking,” she said.

 

Coming on the eve of tonight’s Republican debate, some commentators thought the news could be an embarrassment to former CEO Carly Fiorina, as she rises in the GOP field. But HP’s troubled enterprise services division – the former EDS, a company founded by another one-time presidential hopeful, Ross Perot – was actually acquired for $13.9 billion in 2008, well after Fiorina was fired, by her successor Mark Hurd, who also was fired and is now co-CEO of Oracle. At the time, Hurd said “the combination of HP and EDS will create a leading force in global IT services.”

 

The EDS acquisition is not to be confused with the disastrous 2011 purchase of Autonomy for $11 billion by CEO Leo Apotheker, who also was fired.

 

Meg Whitman (number 7 on our new Most Powerful Women list) has been CEO for four years now and is struggling to stop the bleeding. Her point of pride? “We haven’t done anything stupid in the last four years,” she said yesterday, “and we don’t intend to do anything stupid in the future.” Not clear whether that will be enough to turn the company around.

 

Meanwhile, give someone credit – but not to Fiorina, since it was created by her “unaffiliated” superPAC – for this wonderful advertisement released this week, taking of advantage of Donald Trump’s boorish “look at that face” comment. It is one of the high points of a campaign that, so far, has had mostly low ones.

 

Enjoy the day, and don’t do anything stupid.

 

 

 

Alan Murray
@alansmurray
alan.murray@fortune.com

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