Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina joins Republican presidential fray

Fiorina proclaims on her "Carly for President" website that her time at Hewlett-Packard will prepare her well for the White House.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read
Former HP chief executive Carly Fiorina speaks at a Republican event in Nashua, N.H., on April 18, 2015. Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is running for president, and judging by her own website and her brief history in politics, her time at the computer maker will play a major role in that bid.

Fiorina announced the news on her Twitter account and on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Monday. In a video posted to her Twitter account, she said that she's seeking the Republican nomination for president because she believes the US "is at a pivotal point."

She is notable in part for being the first (and perhaps only) former technology executive to enter the 2016 race for the White House. She joins a growing number of Republican candidates, including Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, all vying first for the party's nomination and eventually to compete against the Democratic nominee, widely expected at this early date to be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

On her "Carly for President" website, Fiorina takes a dig at Clinton, saying "Our founders never intended us to have a professional political class. ... We know that the only way to reimagine our government is to reimagine who is leading it."

In 2010, Fiorina, who has never held elective office, ran for a US Senate seat in California against incumbent Barbara Boxer. After a bitter fight that saw Fiorina's tenure at HP heavily criticized by Boxer, the former CEO won just 42 percent of the vote.

Indeed, HP could loom large for Fiorina during this campaign. During her tenure as chief executive between 1999 and 2005, she made the controversial decision in 2001 to merge with PC maker Compaq to create the world's largest PC manufacturer. Not long after the deal was announced, Walter Hewlett, the son of co-founder William Hewlett, launched a proxy fight to unseat Fiorina. He said that the Compaq merger was a poor attempt at making a strategic decision and would ultimately hurt the company. Though his proxy fight failed and Fiorina stayed in her role, Hewlett's attempts to remove her created a rift between her and the board that culminated in a messy ouster in 2005.

In her 2006 book "Tough Choices," Fiorina argued that HP's board was dysfunctional.

During her campaign against Boxer, the skeletons resurfaced as the California senator took Fiorina to task, claiming she failed to properly lead the company. Boxer also pointed to claims that Fiorina was difficult to work with and that HP shares were up following her dismissal, indicating that her work left much to be desired.

On her website, the 60-year-old Fiorina has an entire section dedicated to her HP tenure, and says that under her leadership, "great things happened at HP." She lists several accomplishments, including doubling the company's revenues, quadrupling its cash flow, and growing it from the 28th largest company in the US to the 11th.

"Carly didn't always make the most popular decisions at HP -- but, time and time again, they would prove to be the right ones," her site reads. "But even though her record as CEO speaks for itself, Carly faced headwinds from people who did not want to see HP change. They wanted to double-down on a flawed agenda that simply wasn't sustainable against the new challenges of the 21st century.

"Our nation faces this very same problem today -- where career politicians protect the current system that personally benefits them, but no longer works for the American people," the site continues.

Meanwhile, a site Fiorina's team apparently neglected to scoop up, CarlyFiorina.org, is being used to highlight the number of layoffs at HP during her tenure.

Even before her announcement Monday, Fiorina had already started to boost her presence in New Hampshire and Iowa, states that are early factors in the runup to the nomination. It's unknown how much funding Fiorina has raised so far in a contest that could require spending hundreds of millions of dollars. It's unknown what sort of support she'll find among potential Silicon Valley donors.

Fiorina plans to hold a live stream to answer questions from the public on Twitter at 1 p.m. PT on Monday.