Apotheker was supposed to be a steady hand to steer HP out of a tumultuous time but his strategic decisions were drastic and did little to inspire confidence. He was doomed by disappointing earnings and a fumbled announcement that the company's personal computer division was for sale. Even as he struggled, Apotheker complained that HP suffered from years of under-investment by his predecessor, Mark Hurd.
Apotheker also was one of the chief backers of HP's acquisition of British software company Autonomy Corp. HP paid $10 billion for Autonomy, but later said it was deceived by improper accounting and overpaid.
After just 11 months, Apotheker was forced out and replaced by former eBay CEO Meg Whitman.
CHARLES CONAWAY, KMARTConaway had won many fans on Wall Street as the No. 2 executive at CVS, where he helped build the drugstore chain into an industry powerhouse. When he was hired by Kmart in 2000, Conaway inherited a company with a long list of entrenched problems, including outdated technology and drab stores. Analysts say Conaway made strategic mistakes, such as trying to compete with Wal-Mart on price and focusing on exceedingly cheap groceries rather than on its exclusive Martha Stewart brand. In early 2002, Kmart filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and Conaway resigned soon after. Conaway also faced accusations that he misled investors about Kmart's financial problems before the bankruptcy filing. The bankruptcy led to Kmart coming under the control of Edward Lampert, a billionaire investor. Lampert later engineered the acquisition of Sears, Roebuck & Co., combining the companies into Sears Holding Corp. BOB NARDELLI, CHRYSLER Nardelli was hailed as an outsider who could help save the U.S. auto industry by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, which installed him as the head of Chrysler in August 2007. But Nardelli, who spent most of his career in the executive ranks at GE before leaving to run Home Depot, had no experience in the complex business of auto manufacturing, and it showed.