The HP story isn’t going away (note, that’s what happens when you spy on reporters, they get their fur up in a bunch). Some things happened yesterday, though. 1) She tried to shift blame elsewhere for using illegal methods. The New York Times gives her side of the story. 2) She called all the reporters who had been spied on and apologized. 3) HP’s CEO, Mark Hurd, sent a letter to employees which basically said its rules and ethics’ codes had been broken.
A few things. I doubt the board will vote her off. Why not? Well, because of she goes they know they’ll be kicked out too. This whole board doesn’t pass the smell test. I’m not even in Silicon Valley right now and I can smell the stench coming over the Santa Cruz mountains.
Second, why didn’t she call and apologize as soon as she realized the methods that had been used? Rule of PR, those who own the negative get to control it the most. By not going public with what she did FIRST she let Tom control all the PR. I don’t know who to believe, but I’ll believe the guy who brought this to the public light first far more than I’ll believe the person who didn’t bring it out.
It’s pretty clear that there were legal questions. After all, why would HP’s lawyers call an outside law firm and ask for advice on the legality of this? (That lawyer, one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful, is now saying he wasn’t presented with all of the evidence).
Rob Hyndman has a good recap of yesterday’s events.
So, here’s the bottom line. This thing doesn’t pass the smell test. Patricia, do the respectable thing, stand up and take responsibility. That’s what those of us who are in leadership positions have to do sometimes, even if it isn’t completely our fault.
But, even if she goes, this whole board smells. I guess they are gonna make the shareholders make the hard decisions. Unfortunately shareholders only care whether the company is making them money or not, not whether the board is ethical, nice, or doesn’t smell.
It’s a sad day for the industry. I’m gonna go out today with friends and family and head to the beach where I hope the breeze blows the smell back over the hill.
UPDATE: here’s why I say it smells. Even my seventh grader knows there’s something smelly about looking at people’s phone records. Patricia Dunn, when she was presented the evidence about the leaker, had to have seen that phone records were involved. Note that she didn’t stop and say “how did you get these?” She should have stopped the investigation at that point. Everyone who watches TV courtrooms knows that you aren’t allowed to use evidence that’s gained in illegal ways. And any chairperson who says that looking at phone records or other personal information isn’t illegal isn’t the kind of chair we should allow in a position of power. Also, anyone who doesn’t understand the HUGE difference between a lie detector test and a set of phone records SHOULD NOT BE IN A POSITION OF POWER IN A COMPANY THAT HAS POWER OVER OTHER PEOPLE’S PRIVACY. She might not be a criminal (I’ll leave that for the Attorney General to figure out) but she sure isn’t smart enough to be on a board of directors. Sorry, she’s gotta go. And same with this whole board.