The man responsible for HP’s corporate and technological strategy is leaving the company. And he won’t be replaced.
On Thursday, HP announced that Shane Robison will hang up his spurs on Nov. 1, after 11 years at the technology giant. Sources inside the company tell Wired.com that after Robison vacates the position, a “vast majority” of his staff will now report directly to CEO Meg Whitman and the rest will report to various division CEOs. According to the company, this will “drive strategy, research, and development closer” to the company’s various businesses.
Whitman took over as boss in September, amid much controversy over the company’s haphazard direction. Robison has been one of the few top executives to weather each of the company’s CEO changes over the last few years, from Carly Fiorina to Mark Hurd to the recently ousted Leo Apotheker.
In a statement, HP said that Robison “was responsible for shaping HP’s corporate strategy and technology agenda. He was instrumental in steering the company’s multibillion-dollar research and development investment and has led many of the company’s largest merger and acquisition activities.”
Frank Gillett, who tracks HP for research outfit Gartner, says that Robison’s departure is likely part of the fallout from the recent regime change. But he doesn’t quite understand the new company structure. “It doesn’t make sense to have all of Robison’s people reporting to the CEO,” he said. “Now there’s no obvious center of gravity for strategy.”
There has been talk of HP spinning off its low-margin PC business into a wholly owned subsidiary, and Robison’s departure would seem to be another way of decentralizing the company. “If that’s the story,” Gillett says, “I’m not buying.”