The search for HP's next top CEO

As a committee begins its search for former CEO Mark Hurd's replacement, here are a few of the top candidates they are likely considering for the job.

Running Hewlett-Packard is a big job: the company has more than 300,000 employees, did $114 billion in revenue during 2009, and plays in just about every sector of the tech industry. As a committee begins its search for former CEO Mark Hurd's replacement, here are a few of the top candidates they are likely considering for the job.

Ann Livermore
Ann Livermore HP

Ann M. Livermore
Current position: Executive vice president, Enterprise Business, HP
Pros: Livermore has been with HP since 1982, working her way up the ranks of the company's software and services division. The group she runs now, Enterprise Business, is a $54 billion business that just successfully absorbed the giant EDS acquisition, and is considered to be one of the main sources of growth for HP going forward.

Cons: Twice she's been considered to be on short lists of CEO candidates at HP and twice she's been passed over for outside hires--once for Carly Fiorina, and once for Hurd. Unless third time's the charm?

Vyomesh Joshi
Vyomesh Joshi HP

Vyomesh Joshi
Current position: Executive vice president, Imaging and Printing Group, HP
Pros: He's been at HP even longer than Livermore, since 1980, and heads up IPG, the Imaging and Printing Group, a $29 billion business. Besides his longevity at HP, he's no stranger to dysfunction: he's been seated on Yahoo's board of directors since 2005.

Cons: Printing isn't the powerhouse inside HP that it used to be. The new direction for the company is clearly in software and services and not ink and printer hardware, and HP's board may want someone who can reassure customers and investors that they know those markets.

Todd Bradley
Todd Bradley HP

Todd Bradley
Current position: Executive vice president, Personal Systems Group, HP
Pros: Bradley is the only person on this list with actual CEO experience. He came to HP in 2005 after a three-year stint as Palm's CEO and president. And under his leadership of HP's Personal Systems Group, the company has risen to become the largest seller of PCs in the world. Though software and services revenue is driving much of HP's growth, the company's decision to spend $1.2 billion to acquire Palm this year shows that it sees a bright future for mobile technology, which his Personal Systems Group will oversee.

Cons: HP mostly considers itself an enterprise services company these days, and will probably go with someone with at least a little experience selling products to businesses, not consumers.

Carol Bartz
Carol Bartz Yahoo

Carol Bartz
Current position: President and CEO, Yahoo

Pros: Bartz is no stranger to the tech industry and weird situations, stepping in to run Yahoo in 2009 amid the chaos left following its disastrous courtship with Microsoft. She can chat with engineers and sales people, loves courting big customers, and has a personality that will leave no doubt who's in charge. Now that she's been at Yahoo a while, perhaps she's wondering if a company that runs like a clock might be easier on the blood pressure.

Cons: Bartz sort of has her hands full at the moment with Yahoo, and lots of financial incentives to stay. She's never run anything as big as HP (although few have) and her style could clash with HP's culture.

Steven Mills
Steven Mills IBM

Steven A. Mills
Current position: Senior vice president and software group executive, IBM
Pros: Mills runs enterprise software at IBM, giving him perhaps the best direct experience in one of HP's most crucial businesses. He's been thought of as a possible replacement for IBM CEO Sam Palmisano, but The Wall Street Journal said analysts aren't sure that, at 58 years old, Mills would be tapped to replace Palmisano, also 59.

Cons: Mills is an IBM lifer, and Palo Alto is a little different than upstate New York. HP also might want someone familiar with the consumer business, and while some IBM divisions are bigger than your average tech company, in the wake of Hurd's unceremonious departure HP's board might prefer someone with CEO experience.

Charles Phillips
Charles Phillips Oracle

Charles Phillips
Current position: President, Oracle
Pros: It's not clear which is better preparation for stepping into a tense situation: being a former Marine or having worked for Larry Ellison. Phillips, however, can claim both on his resume, helping build Oracle into a huge company by integrating lots of smaller companies and keeping the trains running on time.

Cons: A few months of experience with Sun under Oracle's belt doesn't really count as the kind of hardware expertise that could be needed in the Big Chair at HP. And there's the little fact that Phillips has had his own problems with romantic indiscretions.

Padmasree Warrior
Padmasree Warrior Cisco

Padmasree Warrior
Current position: Chief technology officer, Cisco
Pros: Warrior would be an interesting choice. She's a regular on the Silicon Valley lecture circuit and is seen as a bit of a technology visionary, having been on the short list of rising tech industry stars for several years. As Cisco's CTO, she's gained experience with complicated enterprise technology, and knows hardware from a stint inside Motorola's old chip operation, Freescale.

Cons: Experience, experience, experience. Coming off this scandal, HP isn't likely looking for someone they'll have to train on the job, and Warrior has certainly never tackled anything remotely as big as HP. Maybe she'll be ready by the next scandal.

About the author

    Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.

    Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur. E-mail Erica.

     

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