Dunn, Fiorina lash out at HP board

Both women blame former board members George Keyworth and Tom Perkins for their troubles at Hewlett-Packard.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
3 min read
An old-boy network at Hewlett-Packard contributed to the legal troubles of former Chairman Patricia Dunn and undermined the leadership of former CEO Carly Fiorina, the women suggested Sunday on national TV.

In separate interviews on the CBS television news program "60 Minutes," both Dunn and Fiorina say while each was still working for HP, former board directors Tom Perkins and George Keyworth plotted against them.

"Clearly they were aligned in how they thought I should reorganize the business," Fiorina, who was ousted as HP's CEO in 2005, told reporter Lesley Stahl. "But these were people that, for all their gifts and all their accomplishments, didn't understand what running an $85 billion company is all about."

Stahl said during the program that both women appearing on the same show was a "quirk." Fiorina's memoir, titled "Tough Choices," just happened to be hitting store shelves at the exact time when Dunn was being charged for allegedly masterminding a spying campaign on journalists, HP board members and employees.

Both women were highly critical of the former HP board members at a time when the company is reeling from the spying scandal, which has led to criminal charges against Dunn and HP executives. Dunn resigned from HP's board on Sept. 22.

Perkins could not be reached for comment.

Dunn was the catalyst of HP's investigation into the source of news leaks at the company, said California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who last week charged Dunn and four others with four felonies, including identity theft.

During the leak hunt, HP has acknowledged that the company obtained private telephone records belonging to journalists, HP employees and board directors.

If convicted, Dunn and the others charged could face 12-year jail sentences.

Despite scores of documents that show Dunn was intimately involved in the operation, she doesn't accept personal responsibility for criminal wrongdoing and claimed during the TV interview that she is the victim of a "disinformation campaign" directed against her by Perkins.

Perkins, one of the founders of Silicon Valley's most prominent venture capital firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, was the man who forced HP to go public with the truth about the company's leak hunt and the methods used.

Dunn said that Perkins has a vendetta against her for disclosing to the board the source of the leak: Keyworth, a friend of Perkins.

Keyworth acknowledged being the leak after being confronted with telephone records that showed he contacted CNET News.com reporter Dawn Kawamoto shortly before she published a story about an HP board meeting in January. Keyworth resigned from the board in September.

Perkins was outraged over Dunn's disclosure about Keyworth to the full board and resigned in May. Since then, Perkins has had it in for Dunn, she told "60 Minutes."

Perkins "wanted me off the board," Dunn said during the interview. "I don't know if he ever thought through the consequences that would go into getting me off the board."

Asked whether she believed Perkins was responsible for her legal troubles, Dunn said: "I don't think I would be standing here today if Tom had handled this different."

In a statement Monday, Keyworth's lawyer said that the former board member "continues to cooperate with governmental investigators looking into matters associated with the illegal spying campaigns initiated in 2005 and 2006."

In her new book, Fiorina supports Dunn's claim that Keyworth and Perkins were highly critical of Dunn.

"He had been derisive of Pattie Dunn's capabilities ever since I had known him," Fiorina writes of Keyworth.

Fiorina said that she suspected Perkins and Dunn of playing a big part in the board's decision to oust her. Fiorina said that the company flourished under her leadership and that she believes that she was fired for "personal" reasons. She lamented the way HP handled her firing--without thanking her--and suggested that HP's male-dominated culture was partly to blame.

"I think somehow men understand men's needs for respect differently then they understand it for a woman," Fiorina said. "I'm disappointed to have to say that, but I think it's undeniably true."