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Shed no tears for Carly

A News.com reader writes: I realize from your previous columns that you're a Carly supporter, but playing the sexism card like you did won't work.

2 min read
Shed no tears for Carly

In response to the Dec. 14 column by Charles Cooper, "Carly and the "babe" factor":

You just answered your own questions about why the press doesn't dwell on the physical appearance of Michael Capellas or Lou Gerstner--neither has been so publicly visible or--from another perspective--overexposed as Carly.

And it wasn't Hewlett-Packard that "fostered a cult of Carlymania," it was Carly herself. Careful examination of the print ads and TV commercials showing her outside the fabled garage will reveal no evidence that she was coerced into doing them at gunpoint. On the contrary, she seemed to revel in the attention she was getting. To some of us, the ads and hypervisibility she was seeking/getting were signs of unhealthy egotism; for example, when did you ever see Jack Welch in an ad for a General Electric product?

I realize from your previous columns that you're a Carly supporter, but playing the sexism card like you did won't work. Carly has tried to manipulate her public image and she has sought the spotlight. Thus, it's only natural, and fair, that she will be judged upon superficial criteria like handshakes. And you must admit that handshake strength has been described in innumerable profiles of male executives.

To her credit, Carly has correctly diagnosed that the "HP Way" has become a handicap and that HP needs a thorough shaking from top to bottom. To her detriment, however, she has prescribed the wrong medicine for the disease. Compaq is a deeply troubled PC maker and adding it to HP will produce the same "success" that the acquisition of Digital Equipment had for Compaq. Managers unable to bring about internal change tend to resort to acquisitions; Carly's previous attempt to acquire Price shows she is relying on external acquisitions to disguise her failure to change HP's culture. And the rebellion of the various foundations is a damning indictment of her failure to understand the politics of large HP shareholders and bring them on board prior to announcing the acquisition. She clearly didn't do her homework properly.

Shed no tears for Carly. Yes, she will soon be out of HP, but her golden parachute will be golden indeed.

Harry Helms
Ridgecrest, Calif.