From Publishers Weekly
Burrows, who reported on the merger of technology rivals Hewlett-Packard and Compaq for Business Week during late 2001 and early 2002, turns the notes from his day job into an uncompromising look at the deal and the woman who set it in motion, HP CEO Carleton Fiorina. Although George Anders's Perfect Enough covers the same territory, this account distinguishes itself with a deeper portrait of Fiorina. Beginning with her childhood as Cary Carleton Sneed, Burrows traces Fiorina's ascent through a second-tier MBA program to early positions at AT&T and Lucent, uncovering former associates who shadow her success story with tales of ruthless ambition and a tendency to abandon ventures before she could be tainted by their failure. Burrows also depicts the discord within HP ranks over Fiorina, whose marketing-honed strategies were seen as a betrayal of the "HP Way," the leadership principles established by the company's founders. Walter Hewlett, the second-generation director whose opposition to the merger intensified the shareholders' vote, gets substantially less play here than in Anders's version, and Burrows is much less accepting of Hewlett's version of events. But his skepticism also applies to HP's enthusiasm for the Compaq deal, which many industry experts scorned as a recipe for disaster. HP executives eventually stopped cooperating with Burrows once they determined they wouldn't be able to spin his reportage, but the book still manages to provide a richly detailed version of the legal wrangling that finally brought the deal to a close. Although the prose is somewhat hurried, the comprehensive and near-instantaneous analysis will impress business readers.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The now-famous garage in Palo Alto, California, where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started their company, is commonly known as the "birthplace of Silicon Valley." The humble beginnings and camaraderie that "Bill and Dave" had with HP workers formed the basis of what was known as "the HP Way," a noncompetitive, family orientation. This steady-as-she-goes attitude kept the company in consistent double-digit growth for decades. Flash forward to 2002. Both founding members of the company are gone, and son Walter B. Hewlett is suing high-powered CEO Carly Fiorina over her questionable merger with beleaguered Compaq. Fiorina was brought on board to make sweeping changes to the company, not the least of which was eliminating the HP Way. Burrows' narrative follows Fiorina's rocketing career from AT & T through Lucent Technologies through her signing as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and focuses on the controversial merger with Compaq. Bold and brash but completely composed, Fiorina always succeeds in making the big moves and somehow manages to escape responsibility for the collateral damage. David Siegfried
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