So Carly is out. Not even two years after forcing a bad deal--the $24 billion Compaq merger--down the HP Board's throat, that same board is forcing Carly out.
The only real problem with the Compaq deal is that it was stupid. Always was. Almost everyone except Carly and a few acolytes knew it even without the benefit of hindsight. There was never--then or now--a compelling reason to throw away $24 billion on a low-margin, market-share losing PC company simply to shore up your own low-margin, market-share losing, PC business.
But the rationale Carly presented to sway the board and a majority of shareholders was hard to deny, which is to say that HP needed shaking up, and Carly did shake things up. Unfortunately, by making herself the visible face of the "New" HP, Carly also put a bullseye on her back, and there were many people inside and outside the company rooting for her comeuppance.
I once worked for Massachusetts Senator Ed Brooke, the first African-American Senator elected after Reconstruction. He had been enormously popular since coming to prominence as the prosecutor in the Boston Strangler case, and as Senator he was widely hailed as the face of tolerance in Massachusetts--a state which had seen its share of very ugly racial tensions during the busing disputes that made "South Boston" a highly loaded word.
But the minute the news broke, during the early months of his third and final campaign for the US Senate, that Brooke had made "mis-statements" on a deposition during divorce procedings from his wife, all the good will evaporated, and the bias and racism hidden lightly beneath the surface of that heavily Democratic state oozed to the surface. Brooke lost badly, to a handsome young Congressman named Paul Tsongas, a good man who would make a national name for himself before succumbing to cancer.
The parallel may not appear obvious, but that very same "we always knew this wasn't right" is now driving the media reaction and its coverage of the long rise and brief fall of Carly Fiorina at the helm of Hewlett-Packard. In my opinion, she brought most of it on herself. But the same media that built her up is going to have a great time tearing her down.