Personal Systems Group

What Fiorina really thinks of HP's plans

August 24, 2011: 4:23 PM ET

HP's plan to sell or spin-off its PC decision was viewed as the undoing of Carly Fiorina's grand vision. Today, she weighed in on the decision.

Carly FiorinaFORTUNE -- The interviewer in this Bloomberg TV clip wonders whether Hewlett Packard has mismanaged its PC business, forcing the company to make the surprise announcement last week that it's shopping its Personal Systems Group. "It's not for me to say," said interviewee Carly Fiorina, the former HP CEO whose controversial purchase of Compaq computer in 2002 made the company the No. 1 purveyor of PCs.

Or maybe it was for her to say. She immediately followed up her demurring statement with a criticism of HP's (HPQ) disinvestment in research and development. She also repeatedly defended her decision to buy Compaq, which she said succeeded "in revenue, in market share, and in profitability." Further, she maintained, the Compaq acquisition also strengthened HP's position in the enterprise business – servers, storage, networking – that HP last week said it was now going to concentrate on when it sheds the PC division. Critics have contended all along that HP could have strengthened that position without spending $25 billion to acquire a low-margin PC company. Nonetheless, Fiorina said, the Compaq acquisition was "all about the enterprise."

She made a similar demonstration of rhetorical gymnastics in describing her 1999 decision (also highly controversial) to spin off HP's testing and measurement division into Agilent (A). That division was spun off, she said "not because it was a failure, but because it was a success" and "could continue to be a success outside the company."

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