In an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio Thursday morning, GOP presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina was asked if she would ever take responsibility for HP’s well-documented struggles. Fiorina responded with a strong counter-pitch: Haha, what struggles?
Exchange host Laura Knoy asked, “You’ve in part blamed the collapse of the tech bubble for HP’s problems. You were the leader there, did you play any role in HP’s troubles at that time?”
“Well actually I don’t blame the dot-com bust,” replied Fiorina, who has, in fact, referenced the dot-com bust many times when explaining why she got fired; a shorter way to say this would be “blamed.” Fiorina continued:
“I was fired in a boardroom brawl that lasted over two weeks, and it was over a matter of principle, that board members shouldn’t be leaking confidential conversations out of the boardroom. The man who led that effort, who was also leaking to the press, is a legendary venture capitalist named Tom Perkins, and about 6 months ago he took out a full-page ad in the New York Times, unbeknownst to me, that said ‘Carly was right, I was wrong, the board was dysfunctional, she was a great CEO, she’ll make a great president, I’m backing her 1000%.”
Fiorina, whose favorite term is “boardroom brawl,” failed to mention that the ad in question was placed by by Carly for America, the super PAC backing her candidacy; another thing Tom Perkins is known for is comparing criticism of his fellow one-percenters to Kristallnacht. He has also suggested that the rich should have more votes in elections, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and wrote an erotic novel titled “Sex and the Single Zillionaire.”
“Whether one should take his foursquare testimonial to Fiorina’s management skills at face value is doubtful,” Michael Hiltzik wrote of Perkins at the Los Angeles Times.
“Here’s my track record at HP. I was recruited to that company. That company was deeply troubled, it had grown fat and bloated and it wasn’t producing, for customers, for shareholders. I took that company in 6 years through the height of the dot com boom, and then 6 months later we went into the dot com bust. And in spite of those very difficult times, we doubled the size of the company to almost 90 billion, we grew top line revenues at 9 percent, we quadrupled cash flow, we tripled the rate of innovation to almost 15 patents a day, we went from lagging to leading in every single product category in every market segment. I will run on that track record all day long.”
While it’s accurate to say that HP was troubled and times were tough in the tech sector, the growth Fiorina refers to here happened because the company merged with Compaq, a large competitor; stocks plummeted over 50 percent, 30,000 people were laid off, and the year she was fired, profits were $1 billion less than when she started despite the fact that the company doubled in size.
Knoy pointed this out, adding, “Leadership is about taking responsibility. Did you play no responsible part in HP’s misfortunes?” Fiorina responded:
“First of all, I don’t accept your premise that HP had misfortunes. I mean yes, we went through difficult times, profits were up, not down. Cash flow was up, not down. Revenue growth rates were up from 1% to 9%. So, Hewlett-Packard was saved in the 6 years that I was there.”
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Image via Associated Press.