Mighty Meg and HP

This morning’s Observer column.

‘Hewlett-Packard to lay off 27,000 employees,” said the headline, prompting a grimace from this columnist. For while it’s great fun to observe a smart-ass startup such as Facebook screw up (as it appears it did with its IPO), it’s quite another to see one of the world’s great technology companies apparently entering a death spiral. What you need to understand is that for geeks of my generation, HP was a synonym for engineering excellence in the same way that Rolls-Royce is for aero-engine designers. And what makes it worse is that most of HP’s wounds were self-inflicted.

So it was with a sinking heart that I dug out the transcript of the internal video that HP’s newish CEO, Meg Whitman, sent to her 350,000 staff, announcing the job cuts and other measures she is taking. Having read it, I came away thinking that not only does Meg get it, but that she might even turn this supertanker round…