An HP time line

A look at the pivotal moments in the Hewlett-Packard boardroom shake-up.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
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.
Tom Krazit
6 min read
The public first learned about the HP pretexting scandal in September, but the roots of "Project Kona" date back to 2005. Here's how it unfolded.


Early 2005--HP begins first phase of its leak investigation, code-named Project Kona by former Chairman Patricia Dunn, who was vacationing in Kona, Hawaii, at the time.

June 15, 2005--Dunn and former General Counsel Ann Baskins take part in a telephone meeting with outside investigator Ron DeLia "where the term 'pretext' was mentioned," according to HP.

July 22, 2005--DeLia's firm, Security Outsourcing Solutions, reports on the results of Kona. HP said Dunn and Baskins were among those at the meeting. CEO Mark Hurd also "briefly attended a portion of the meeting," HP said.

Late summer--Kona I concluded "without uncovering the source of the leaks," HP has said in SEC filings.


Early January 2006--HP's board of directors meets at the Marriott Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa in Indian Wells, Calif., to discuss the company's plans for the future. Topics included beefing up HP's software group, increasing its support of Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron server processor and improving its direct-sales operation.

Jan. 17--HP targets the personal phone records of CNET News.com reporter Dawn Kawamoto, an investigator told Kawamoto.

Jan. 20--News.com reporter Tom Krazit calls HP for comment on story arising from the Indian Wells meeting. Krazit's phone records are accessed later that day, an investigator told Krazit.

Jan. 23--News.com publishes an article with information about the meeting, quoting an anonymous source. HP declines to comment for the article.

Jan. 30--Someone accesses the AT&T records of then-HP board member Tom Perkins.

Jan. 30--HP security worker Anthony Gentilucci gives details in an e-mail to HP's former senior counsel, Kevin Hunsaker, on how investigators call phone carriers "under some ruse" to get telephone records. "I shouldn't have asked," Hunsaker replies in an e-mail the same day.

Feb. 7--HP security worker Vince Nye sends an e-mail to two superiors saying he has "serious reservations" about HP's investigative methods, warning that "if it is not illegal, then it is leaving HP in a position of (sic) that could damage our reputation or worse."

May 18--At a meeting of HP's board of directors, Dunn reveals the results of the investigation and names then-Director George Keyworth as the source of the News.com article regarding the Indian Wells meeting. Perkins, disgusted with the methods used to conduct the investigation and angered that Keyworth was publicly identified in this manner, quits the board on the spot.

May 19--HP announces Perkins' resignation in a terse statement delivered late on a Friday afternoon, thanking him for his years of service to the company.

June 28--Perkins receives an e-mail from HP's outside counsel, Larry Sonsini at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Perkins had asked Sonsini to examine the legality of the investigative methods, and Sonsini tells Perkins that the investigative firm did access the home and cell phone records of directors using pretexting methods.

July 18--Perkins writes an e-mail to then-HP General Counsel Baskins, Sonsini and HP Chief Executive Mark Hurd, asking that the minutes of the May 18 board meeting be changed to reflect that he resigned in protest over the methods used to investigate directors. This would require HP to file a new form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, recognizing that Perkins resigned after a disagreement with the board.

July 28--Perkins sends a strongly worded letter to the board (click here for PDF), pointing out the illegality of the pretexting methods and asking that the record be changed to reflect that he resigned in protest. "I did not resign from the board for frivolous reasons but because HP was standing into dangerous waters--waters hazardous with both illegal and unconscionable governance practices--and because my advice was being ignored," he wrote in the letter.

Aug. 11--AT&T confirms in a letter to Perkins that someone used pretexting methods to gain access to his phone records.

Sept. 5--Sources tell News.com that HP is preparing a new filing with the SEC, disclosing the nature of Perkins' resignation and announcing that Keyworth will not stand for re-election to the board.

Sept. 6--In its SEC filing, HP acknowledges that pretexting methods were used by its contractors in the course of the investigation. While it claims that its outside counsel had said the activities were "not generally unlawful," it also acknowledges that it can't say for sure whether its investigative firms stayed within the bounds of the law. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer announces plans to investigate HP under California laws regarding pretexting.

Sept. 7--The California Office of the Attorney General confirms to News.com reporter Kawamoto that her home phone records were accessed without her permission as part of HP's investigation into the leak. The person who accessed Kawamoto's records used the same method used to access Perkins' records. That person also used a computer with the same IP address.

Sept. 11--HP confirms that the U.S. Attorney's office in Northern California is also investigating the tactics used in the leak probe. A House of Representatives subcommittee requests a host of documents from HP.

Sept. 12--HP announces that Dunn will step down as chairman in January, to be succeeded by CEO Hurd. Hours later, Keyworth resigns from the board.

In a videotaped message, Dunn apologizes to HP workers, also disclosing for the first time that two HP employees also had their phone records improperly accessed.

Sept. 15--The House Committee on Energy and Commerce asks Dunn, Baskins, Sonsini and DeLia to testify at a Sept. 28 hearing on the pretexting scandal.

Sept. 16--HP confirms that company spokesman Michael Moeller, a former reporter, is one of two employees whose phone records were improperly accessed.

Sept. 19--Investigators tell two News.com reporters that their phone records were targeted the week of Jan. 17--before CNET published an article on the Indian Wells strategy meeting.

Sept. 20--A spokesman for Perkins says the time line provided by investigators doesn't match what Dunn told Perkins; HP's board meeting was scheduled before the pretexting scandal broke.

Meanwhile, Dunn is inducted into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame, and HP schedules a Sept. 22 press conference. Late in the day, The Washington Post reports that Dunn wrote in an e-mail that Hurd approved the plan for a bogus e-mail tip to Kawamoto.

Sept. 21--The company says it has received an additional inquiry from the SEC regarding both the company's leak probe disclosure and its handling of Perkins' resignation. Later in the day, the company releases a statement saying Hurd has offered to appear at the committee hearing. A representative for the committee then says it will accept Hurd's offer.

In addition, News.com learns that HP thoroughly investigated News.com reporter Stephen Shankland and his family, and attempted to draw a connection between Keyworth and Shankland's father, a semiretired geophysicist.

Sept. 22--California Attorney General Bill Lockyer says there is not yet evidence linking Hurd to any criminal wrongdoing but adds that the investigation is still in progress.

Hours later, Hurd holds a press conference during which he announces that Dunn's resignation is immediately effective; he replaces her as company chairman. He also confirms that he knew about several key phases of the company's probe into media leaks and had attended meetings at which the investigation was discussed. Hurd says he was e-mailed a report summarizing the investigation but that he did not read it.

Sept. 25--The House committee issues subpoenas for two HP employees: then-Senior Counsel Hunsaker, who headed the second phase of the investigation, and then-HP security manager Gentilucci, who HP said provided the Social Security number of an employee to outside investigators.

Sept. 26--Hunsaker and Gentilucci leave HP.

Sept. 27--HP files an update with the SEC, noting, among other things, that there was a June 15, 2005, meeting at which the word "pretexting" was used; Dunn and Hurd's written congressional testimony is released.

Sept. 28--Baskins resigns as general counsel on the morning she is slated to testify at congressional hearings. She and nine others invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer questions. HP Chief Executive Hurd, former chairman Dunn and outside counsel Larry Sonsini do answer questions in a hearing that runs for more than seven hours.

Sep. 29--Cingular Wireless filed lawsuit against investigator and firm accused of pretexting News.com reporter Dawn Kawamoto. Earlier in the week, Verizon Wireless sued the unnamed individuals who obtained an HP director's phone records.

Oct. 4--California Attorney General files felony charges against Dunn, Hunsaker and three outside investigators.

Oct. 5--Dunn booked on felony charges in San Jose, Calif.