2. Whitman's Witlessness
Chutzpah, you have a new poster child.HP aimed a dig at rival Dell just hours after CEO Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners announced a $24.4 billion deal to take the No. 3 PC maker private. Clearly seeing an opportunity to feed on any uncertainty surrounding the buyout, HP made its own head-scratching overture in the direction of Dell's customers. "Dell has a very tough road ahead," HP said in a statement. "The company faces an extended period of uncertainty and transition that will not be good for its customers." You have got to be kidding us, Meg. How can you, of all people, crow about somebody else's 'uncertainty and transition'? Talk about throwing stones in glass garages. "With a significant debt load, Dell's ability to invest in new products and services will be extremely limited," HP added. "Leveraged buyouts tend to leave existing customers and innovation at the curb. We believe Dell's customers will now be eager to explore alternatives, and HP plans to take full advantage of that opportunity." Look, we won't argue with the logic there. We honestly can't remember the last private equity deal that didn't end up with its principals getting paid off, employees getting laid off and the company being chopped up and sold off. It's a mafia bust out-perpetrated by investment bankers. And it's hard to expect anything different from this Dell deal. (On that note, will somebody please explain to us what Michael Dell needs to do privately that he can't do publicly? Is holding analyst calls and responding to shareholders so onerous that his only solution is to crush the company he founded with high-interest debt? And what on earth is Microsoft doing in this deal other than alienating all the customers it hasn't already ticked off with its Surface release?) All that aside, Meg should not be yapping about Dell cutting its R&D spending when everybody knows HP is cash strapped as a result of years of dumb deals and even dumber CEO selections. Dell's slide has been painful, but at least it hasn't been entirely self-inflicted. HP shares, on the other hand, have tumbled more than 43% over the past 12 months due to its own mismanagement. How bad are things for HP? Check this out. HP's stock popped 3% Tuesday following an article in business Web site Quartz.com about the company's board studying a plan to break up the once-iconic tech company. Tech site All Things D refuted the report. And HP declined to comment. That's right. HP's shareholders are cheering for the company's destruction. The rest of the world is wondering what the heck is going on there. And all the while Meg is dilly-dallying over Dell's LBO. Is it just us, or shouldn't she have something better to do?
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