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HP CEO claims firm is back on 'stable footing' despite impending layoffs

Meg Whitman prepares enterprise vendor for the next 75 years
Wed Jun 11 2014, 14:33
HP's Meg Whitman

LAS VEGAS: HP CEO Meg Whitman has assured the firm's customers, partners and investors that HP has turned the corner and is back on track, despite continuing layoffs.

At the firm's HP Discover event in Las Vegas, Whitman was in bullish mood as she celebrated the firm's first 75 years.

Opening her keynote, Whitman looked back on the founding of the company in 1939, when Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett decided on the name via a coin toss, and got an early customer in Walt Disney for audio systems for the film Fantasia.

Whitman was keen to remind delegates of HP's record in innovation, including the first desktop calculator in 1968 and the first desktop laser printer and x86 server in the 1980s. However, she assured them that the firm is not resting on past glories and is ready to innovate again.

"I can tell you with pride that HP has turned the corner. We are on a clear path and we have done the hard things to keep us in the lead. The company is back on stable footing," she declared, leading to a spontaneous round of applause from the audience of thousands.

"We haven't always travelled the easiest path, or the most comfortable course, but we take the steps that must be taken to protect our competitive advantage and to better serve all of you."

Whitman cited making it easier to do business with HP and reigniting the innovation engine as two key achievements the firm has recently enjoyed, along with establishing a "clear and compelling" strategy for the future.

Whitman made reference to HP's current 317,500 employees who operate across 170 countries. While she did not specify how many of these staff would remain after the job cuts, she did hint at the process underway.

HP recently announced it will make further cuts of up to 16,000 positions, taking the total layoffs under Whitman to as high as 50,000.

"We also announced steps to continue to reduce cost and further streamline the company. The reality is we need to continue to simplify how we do business," she explained, adding that this entails eliminating bureaucracy and getting closer to the customer.

"We'll bring the resources of a battleship while moving like a speedboat. We are making these changes to equip this company for the future and to be the best technology partner on Earth for you," Whitman said. "We have done this for 75 years, and we plan to do this for at least another 75 years."

We had hoped that Whitman would use her opening keynote to unveil the long-promised HP 3D printers, but these failed to materialise.

At HP's annual shareholder meeting this March, Whitman said the firm would launch its 3D printers focused on the business market in June, after being asked by a shareholder for more insight on what moves the firm intends to make to establish itself with this emerging technology. HP initially revealed it was working on 3D printers in November last year.

However, Whitman finished up with a hint that Wednesday will bring a major announcement, which her team has said is the most exciting project it has worked on. This could be 3D printers, or further announcements around HP's Helion cloud platform. µ


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