Category Archives: Cobuyitaphobia

Corporate Espionage

“Some at H.P. Knew Early of Tactics,” by Damon Darlin and Matt Richel, New York Times, 20 September 2006, C1.

Long-time tdaxp readers will note that I was an early nemesis of the executive staff of H.P. Among other things I’ve accused them of

and other ills. Like all lovers of sanity, I was delighted when former CEO Carly Fiorina was fired. Yet the epic H.P. spying debacle has shown that Fiorina was just the tip of the ice-berg… and that H.P. wickedness extends all the way to my temporary home of Nebraska.

The disclosure came Tuesday as investigators examined the role of a man in the Omaha area who may have obtained private phone records on Hewlett-Packard’s behalf, according to people briefed on the company’s review of the operation.

California and federal prosecutors are exploring whether laws were broken in the investigation, particularly in the use of pretexting – a technique in which an investigator masquerades as someone else to obtain that person’s calling records from a phone company. The prosecutors are also trying to determine who in the company knew of the possibly illegal activity.

The Hewlett-Packard investigations were initiated early in 2005, around the time of Carleton S. Fiorina’s ouster as chairwoman and chief executive, and then resumed in January 2006. The two phases — each initiated after accounts of board members’ discussions appeared in news articles — were code-named Kona I and Kona II, according to several people who saw the company’s investigative records. The names are intriguing: Ms. Dunn’s vacation home is in Kona, Hawaii.

In addition to Hewlett-Packard directors, nine journalists and two employees, those whose phone records were obtained in the investigation included Larry W. Sonsini, the company’s outside counsel, a spokeswoman for his law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, said Tuesday, confirming a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The San Jose Mercury News reported Tuesday that the records of Ms. Fiorina were also scrutinized.

At this is just one of several recent scandals involving Corporate Spying (remember the Sony/EMG’s espionage on the Department of Homeland Security?), I wonder what corporate resiliency planners think of this.

And as the HP scandal keeps getting weirder — they also wanted to subvert newsrooms — this has implications for political theorists such as Purpleslog and Curtis Gale Weeks.

Start Your Week with the Blogosphere!

New South Dakota Blog: The Jim River Report

It’s like Google News and Drudge report for South Dakota


It’s still a “beta,” but I think it has potential. Check it out.

Over at Coming Anarchy, Chirol as written A History of Empires: Part 1 and A History of Empires: Part 2. I already responded. ZenPundit enters the debatetwice! Is “2nd Generation Empire” a new concept or a new name for “confederation”?

Both The World is Grey and I Hate Linux find a lot to like in IE7.

Ever google for cobuyitaphobia? If you do, you’ll see tdaxp blogs in the top positions.

Josh from One Free Korea covers Chinese Riots and weird Korean politics

Pakistan and Democrats both oppose free trade in sugar. But economic connectivity is so sweet!

Did I mention the Jim River Report?


WITI Extremism (Anti-Harvard Anti-Cobuyitaphobia)

Nearly Sixty Years Later the World’s First Programmers Are Still Doing Gender Battle,” by Robin Raskin, WITI Women, 17 March 2005, (from InformationWeek 25 April 2005 full page ad, page 64).

Like Collounsbury despises his bosses, and Cole despises Israel, I despite Women in Technology International. It worms itself into university departments and corporations that either do not know better or are intimidated. It is not some support group. It is a Left/Feminist agitation organization. From the first paragraph of a full-page advertisement in the otherwise excruciatingly corporate InformationWeek

The events of recent weeks have puts the issue of women in the workplace top of mind once again. First Harvard’s President Lawrence Summers made some unfortunate and inappropriate remarks attributing the small number of women in the sciences to innate biological difference between the sexes.

I blogged Summers’ original statement, Harvard forcing her President to apologize for sending ‘a weak signal’, and subsequent hysteria.

The paragraph continues…

At almost the same moment, Carly Fiorina was ousted at Hewlett-Packard. A misfit between her marketing background and HP’s engineering culture was the partial culprit.

Not a misfit between her skills and the job’s requirements, or her marketing background and HP’s engineering industry, but a “culture” issue.

Maybe her incompetent leadership, inappropriate MBA education, lack of communication, steering H-P in the wrong direction, destruction of corporate morale, record of complete failure, and lack of strategy — combined with the fact that Fiorina led the company to a widely predicted disaster by near-fatal lack of cobuyitaphobia had something to do with it.

But at least WITI closes their first paragraph with predictable “diversity” nonsense.

And now, we’ve seen the transformative experience of a woman who’s paid her dues, as Martha Stewart morphs from piranha to muse. The good news? As these events transpire women’s place and unique challenges in the workplace are once again being debated and discussed. The bad news? Like all diversity conversations, as long you’re discussing it, it’s still an issue.

WITI is a 4G-style organization well into the Penetration stage of PISRR, with no ideological enemy to contest or Isolate, actively Subverting academic and corporate networks, attempting to Reorient society to their ends.

Fortunately, WITI’s New Style ends are unachievable and Reharmonizeable. Good.

Womanly Cobuyitaphobia

Losing the HP Way: Two years after Carly Fiorina pulled off a transforming merger, Hewlett-Packard looks huge, frail and confused.,” The Economist,, 25 August 2004 (from BlogCritics).

After jumping on the cobuyitaphobe anti-Fiorina bandwagon

Carly Fiorina is stepping down as chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard after three years. She led the company through the challenging merger with Compaq, which has not gone quite as swimmingly as hoped for.

BlogCritics quotes from a 2004 Economist article on Fiorina’s (disasterous) immunity to cobuyitaphobia

[Carly Fiorina’s] problem ever since has been to justify the beast she thereby created. HP’s shares are worth less today than on the day before the merger was announced or on the day it closed. A consensus has emerged in the industry that the new HP, the tech industry’s most sprawling conglomerate, has lost its focus and is being squeezed between two formidable rivals with much clearer business models, Dell and IBM. Where Dell stands for cheap, simple boxes in an industry that is commoditising, and IBM stands for patching together lots of fiddly subsystems in an industry that remains ridiculously complex, HP seems a lukewarm compromise.

Her problem, in a nutshell, is that HP is trying to be all things to all kinds of customers, and is leaving more and more of them plain confused.

The selection continues, criticizing Fiorina’s femininity

It is unlikely that Ms Fiorina, who in her previous career oversaw the spin-off of Lucent from AT&T, is a stranger to the theory of corporate clarity. Could it be that years of conflict in testosterone-filled rooms have left her afflicted with that psychology so common among bosses of the other gender: the compulsion to rule the roost?

Cobuyitaphobia and MBAs

Yale, HBS and Wharton on Fiorina Firing,” Clear Admit,, 10 February 2005

I blog for my entertainment and my education. It is very helpful to write words down because it forces me to think about what I believe. My blogging on cobuyitaphobia, the fear of synergetic mergers, is part of this.

Consider this CA post on the MBA-education ramifications of Fiorina’s dismissal

The New York Times has published an interesting article about the dismissal of Carleton S. Fiorina as CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

What makes the New York Times article of note for the MBA community is that the journalist asked leading professors like Mike Useem (Wharton) and Rosabeth Kanter (Harvard) to weigh in on the news, along with Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, the Associate Dean at the Yale SOM.

For those of you who are curious, Fiorina has an MBA from the University of Maryland and a master’s of Science in Management from MIT. She pursued her undergraduate studies in medieval history and philosophy at Stanford University.

The blogosphere is amazing because this connectivity is effortless. We live in a wonderful time.


HP’s Fiorina doesn’t get Valentine from Board, quits,” by Dave Taylor, Intuitive Systems,, 9 February 2005.

Cobuyitaphobia is the fear of synergetic mergers. HP’s board should have been cobuyitaphobes when Fiorina merged them and Compaq. Dave over at Intuitive Systems gives more details on HP’s dismissal of Fiorina.

I’ve been tracking the performance and strategic management of HP CEO Carly Fiorina as I’ve watched her steer Hewlett-Packard further and further from the path of success in the challenging personal computer and peripheral industry. I’ve talked about Fiorina’s rift with the Board, HP’s dispute with Apple about the iPod, and HP saddles PC division to printer group, among other topics.

To reiterate, though, it was her reinvention of the company as a centralized management hierarchy, after decades as a loose collection of mostly autonomous divisions, that began concerning me, then her decision to saddle the successful printer division — typically viewed as the bright spot in the HP portfolio — with the failing personal computer division, rather than jettison the completely commoditized business. The acquisition of Compaq was really the beginning of the PC debacle at HP, not changes in the industry, but that’s another topic entirely.

Fiorina’s prize for dragging down HP?

Two additional items of data have surfaced as the day has proceeded. First, the Board of Directors apparently asked Fiorina to resign, so it wasn’t so much that she offered to step aside at all. Second, and this is one of those stories of how CEOs just live different lives to you and me: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Fiorina’s severance package is going to be $21.1 million. Nice work if you can get it.

Cobuyitaphobia Blogosphere

Accessibility & transparency: should Carly have blogged?,” by Debby Weil, BlogWrite for CEOs,, 10 February 2005 (from The PubSub Pulse).

Debby Weil wonders if HP’s Carly Fiorina would still have a job if she was a blogger

Yesterday’s abrupt news that Carly Fiorina was ousted as CEO of H-P got me to thinking… should Carly have had a blog? BTW, the link on Carly’s name goes to the bio page on H-P’s site where the copy has already been changed to “Former Chairman and CEO.” Don’t write off the blogging idea as ridiculous. Consider…

An Internal Blog
If Carly had had an internal blog (i.e. behind H-P’s firewall and not for public viewing), she might have been able to warm up her apparently chilly and/or distant relationship with many H-P employees. Maybe she could have reestablished some of the collegiality that defined H-P’s culture not so long ago. She might have titled her internal blog “Dateline Carly…” and doled out choice anecdotes about her constant travelling. Maybe she could have blogged about how wonderful it was to fly on the corporate jet and how much she appreciated it. I bet they had great snacks on the plane. Did she have a real bed? She might have shown a photo of it. People *love* this kind of detail, especially when it’s divulged by a celebrity… and it’s pretty harmless info.

The post goes on to compare her to Sun’s Jonathan Schwartz, who does blog.

Of course, there’s still the little matter of the huge publicly traded companies she ruined


The ‘HP Way’ Hits the Highway,” by Steve Neiderhauser, Steve Neiderhauser,, 27 January 2004.

Spin Offs for HP,” by by Steve Neiderhauser, Steve Neiderhauser,, 11 February 2005.

If cobuyitaphobia is fear of “synergetic” mergers, then anticobuyitaphilia is love of rational spin-offs. Neiderhauser has been on the case for years

The Register posts an article describing the fear that now pervades the HP-post-merger workplace. In 1999, HP was ranked 10th on Fortune’s annual survey of top corporate cultures. In 2004, HP didn’t even make the list.

A savvy executive limits exposure to a merged company, since he understands the downside.

An unhappy workforce is likely to create customer vigilantes.

If you’re developing IT strategy, it’s important to understand that merged companies tend to lose focus and the ability to create compelling products. Typically, you will benefit by purchasing products from companies with targeted markets. There’s a reason why most spin-offs outperform their peers — focus.

And after Fiorina’s resignation

Carly’s departure from HP and the failed mergers were so predictable anyone could have blogged about it.

Now look for HP to spin off some of its merged units so marketing can develop products that focus on the needs of customers.

Comrade Cobuyitaphobe

Fortune and Fun,” by Stuart Berman, My Kids’ Dad,, 3 February 2005.

Happiness,” by Stuart Berman, My Kids’ Dad,, 10 February 2005.

Stuart over at My Kids’ Dad proves himself a fellow cobuyitaphobist, at least when it comes to HP

Great article on HP and Carly Fiorina – they don’t cut her any slack and they shouldn’t. Basically they demonstrate that the HP Compaq merger has been a complete failure and that the shareholders have suffered at the expense of management. The reaction at the top has been to pass the buck, not take responsibility and make excuses (as well as some requisite sacrificial lambs). How many companies are being led by people who really don’t know how to lead?

His reaction to Fiorina’s dismissal is exactly what it should be: self-effacing and insightful

Ooops – I guess my earlier blog about HP was a little premature. Lack of accountability finally caught up with Carly Fiorina.

What my friend Brendan calls “cobuyitaphobia” — fear of merging for the sake of merging — is a practical ideology, at least in the I.T. industry. Hopefully Fiorina’s reign will be its last gasp at HP.