Agilent chief executive Ned Barnholt revealed the new name and starburst logo this morning at a news conference shortly after telling employees of the new name. Employees gave it a standing ovation, Barnholt said.
The company will begin operating separately under the Agilent name on November 1, he said. However, the split won't be formalized until HP shareholders's stock is split, which likely will happen in early 2000.
The new name is carefully open-ended, not locking HP into one particular business. "We tend to steer away from names that are going to be limiting," said David Redhill, a spokesman for San Francisco-based Landor Associates, the firm that helped pick the new name and logo.
The name, while largely a symbolic move, is a key step in the process of setting up Agilent as an independent company. Hewlett-Packard is in the process of spinning Agilent off from the rest of the company, planning an initial public offering of stock for late 1999 or early 2000..
Agilent makes a wide variety of equipment, including medical monitors, chip testers, and components for high-speed switches and fiber optic networks. The company's growth areas in the future will be in communications technology and life sciences, Barnholt said.
The better-known computing and imaging section of the company got to retain the HP name, because its products are available to a much broader market, Barnholt said. Employees voiced sentiment for preserving the HP link in the new name, but it was better to start fresh, he said.
"The computing and imaging company is much more in the consumer business and sells to many more customers. The branding challenge becomes more difficult dealing with millions of customers as opposed to the hundreds of thousands we have in our business," Barnholt said. "We made a business decision, not a sentimental decision."
HP chose McCann-Erickson to run an advertising campaign to launch the company's new image. The ad campaign will begin in August or September.
Agilent is reminiscent of Lucent, another name Landor helped to chose that's based on a familiar word, lucid.
The Agilent.com Internet domain currently is owned by a company called Agile Enterprises, said Bill Hahn, in charge of strategic planning for Agilent. HP is hoping to acquire the domain, he said.
The company is in the process of building up a new board of directors, including some from HP's current board and some new members, Barnholt said. The company is looking for a new non-executive chairman, and it plans to announce board members in the next two weeks or so.