The consensus of opinion on last night’s second Republican presidential debate is that Carly Fiorina not only went toe to toe with the frontrunner, Donald Trump, but also beat him at his own game. Fiorina touted her outsider status and her successful business record, most notably, as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Unfortunately, the facts about her tenure as head of HP tell a much different story.
Fiorina, as she did last night, keeps emphasizing some key talking points about her business acumen. The biggest of which is that she took over a company and doubled it in size to nearly 90 billion.
Ask most business executives to describe Fiorina’s stint as head of the giant tech company and the word “disaster” will most often be heard. Her recitation of accomplishments at HP is either based on the lack of context or the cherry picking of facts, they say.
Carly Fiorina was hired CEO of Hewlett-Packard in 1999 and was forced out by the board of directors in 2005. In 2002, Fiorina oversaw the biggest high-tech merger in history up to that time, with rival computer company Compaq, which made HP the world’s largest personal computer manufacturer. The deal was controversial as most analysts were not convinced of its strategic value and several board members and shareholders publicly opposed it.
Yes, HP’s revenue nearly doubled during Fiorina’s tenure, from 43 billion in 1999 to about 87 billion in 2005. . But that increase was due to the revenue brought in by the Compaq merger. The facts are that under Fiorina’s watch, 30,000 workers were laid off, jobs were shipped to China and the company stock price cratered a whopping 50%.
Carly Fiorina “simply did not have the skills to manage one of the world’s largest technology companies,” former Compaq chairman Ben Rosen wrote in 2008.
Jason Burnett, the grandson of the late HP co-founder David Packard, has said, “She did damage to a great company and I don’t want to see her do damage to a great country.”
There is no doubt Carly Fiorina is a good speaker. There is no doubt that she distinguished herself in last night’s debate as she did in the first debate (Carly On The Rise) But the more you fact-check her talking points, the more you realize she is not qualified to run the world’s second largest economy. No doubt she will receive a bump in the polls and enjoy 15 minutes of fame.
You have to give Carly credit, though. When she was let go by HP, she did leave with a severance package estimated at $40 million, which speaks well for her negotiating skills, or those of her lawyers!
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