Carly and HP's employees

Two articles on MIT’s TechnologyReview talk about how most HP employees detested Carly Fiorina:

Carly’s Way
A Research Scientist from HP’s Imaging Systems Labs talks of how Carly killed HP’s research infrastructure because of her obsession with the “bottom line” and quarter-to-quarter results. What it’s done, he says, is to hurt HP’s competitiveness in the long run, and its ability to hire top-notch technical talent.

The latter part of the article, where he talks about the results of overall decline in research investment in the U.S., is particularly interesting:

Profit is every CEO’s major focus. Research almost always benefits an entire industry more than any particular company. And research doesn’t have immediate results.

Sometimes it doesn’t have the results that CEOs want. You invent a product that has a longer life-cycle, that doesn’t need constant refills or upgrades. Research is expensive and unpredictable. Things that today’s business world frowns on.

New technology typically has a five-year development cycle. The U.S. technology business stopped being serious about research in 2000 and the results are showing now.

People have a little more money but there’s nothing they want to buy. There’s nothing that makes you say, ‘Wow.” Ten years ago I was seeing something interesting every month, but now we’re touting bloated software and cute case designs as innovation.

The damage to HP and the U.S. technology industry at large may already be irreversible. If we start investing today and let our engineers play we might have something exciting to show people in 2010. That’s a long time to wait for the next big wow.

To me, this rabid fixation on short-term profits is a bigger threat than outsourcing — it is killing our ability to make astonishing things.

IBM remains the only company to continue to nurture and fund industrial research at such a HUGE scale. IBM’s 8 research labs are second to none. No other organisation – not Sun, not Microsoft, certainly not HP – can boast of a research culture of the kind we have. No wonder we’ve dominated the number of patents granted every year for the last 12 years. No wonder an IBM fellow like Dr. Charles Bennet of T. J. Watson Research Labs finds mention as a “pioneer” even in fiction novels like Michael Crichton’s “Timeline”.

Carly’s Gone. HP Celebrates.
Even as an IBMer, this is unpleasant reading. The article begins with:

Just after the official announcement came down that CEO Carly Fiorina would be sacked, corks were popped and bottles were opened.

All shapes and sizes of skeletons have come tumbling out of the closet now that Fiorina’s left the company. This article provides insight into how bad relations were between line workers and upper management, and how her tenure as CEO has left HP a demoralised company.

I bet the strategy mandarins at our Big Blue are licking their lips – their job just got a lot easier!

Jobs versus Gates – personality.

Interesting comment on Slashdot for this discussion:

Steve Jobs is capable of being mean-spirited, cruel, self-centered, and the like. If Apple were to take 90% of the computer market, I have no doubt he would bully people around. That said, no, I don’t think Apple ever could be the next Microsoft just because he is not Gates. Microsoft is the way it is because of Bill Gates. His thirst for total domination goes beyond most CEOs. He is not satisifed with 90% and will continue to crush competitors until he has it all.

Jobs, in contrast, is at his core someone who knows marketing and wants to dazzle his customers. With Microsoft it’s what they want and you have to go along with it. With Apple, it’s about finding the best customer experience and using that for profit.

Look at the quality of their respective products. What kind of quality do you get from Gates? Convoluted, buggy, but hey it’s got features so shut up. What kind of quality do you get from Jobs? Look at Pixar. They are a money-making machine, but they do it by providing customers with top-notch quality. People are glad to give them their money. With Microsoft, it’s often a case of grudgingly giving their money.

So a world dominated by Steve Jobs would undoubtably have it’s own problems, it would be different problems than we have seen from Bill Gates. Their personalities are different enough to ensure that.

The all-new look for RG.org’s blog!

Isn’t is great? Isn’t it cool? Isn’t it mind-blowingly attractive?

Yeah, it’s all of those – and more. Rahul Gaitonde (er, that’s me…) has just finished Part One of the Great Blog Redesign. And what do people think?

Friends and Peers: “Very good indeed. Very easy on the eyes; very readable. Great content too, of course.”

True friends: “What?! It sucks!”

Female Fans: “Choooo chweeet! Just like you! (Swoon).”

Mom and Dad: “You’ve been wasting time web-designing again? Why don’t you help around the house over the weekend?”

Business associates: “Great stuff, my lad. You have all the makings of a top-notch technology professional!”

The rest of the world? Well, let me know what you think! Once more, this site renders well on Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla. It would on Netscape too, if only they’d come out with an Xft build on Linux. I don’t care if it renders well on Internet Explorer or not. If it does, count yourself lucky. If it doesn’t, count yourself luckier – this is a perfect opportunity to go and grab Firefox or Mozilla. And enjoy a whole new Internet.

Scoble’s “book blog”.

This sure is interesting!

Robert Scoble and Shel Israel are working on a book on business blogging. Only, they’re working on the book via a blog! This means, drafts of every section of every chapter of the book will be put up, reviewed by the authors and sundry readers! This is one of those initiatives which gives me the “What the…?” moments!

For a better idea, here’s the first post:

Welcome to our book blogWelcome to our book blog. This is where Shel Israel and Robert Scoble will create a book. Really. An entire book will be done interactively right in front of you and WITH you. So, subscribe to the RSS feed here. Welcome.

Followed by:

Where we came from

You might want to check out where we came from. We’ll be moving things in here today and setting up the furniture and all that. Making this new place a home. The two authors are Shel Israel (he has done a bunch of stuff with a bunch of Silicon Valley startups) and Robert Scoble (he is an evangelist at Microsoft). Our old Red Couch site is on MSN Spaces. Great place to blog, but couldn’t handle multiple authors, which this site needs.