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The drama continues at HP

California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman gives her concession speech during her election night rally in Los Angeles, California, November 2, 2010. REUTERS/David McNew (UNITED STATES – Tags: ELECTIONS POLITICS)

Meg Whitman is in, and the unpopular Leo Apotheker is out as CEO.

There’s little information on how this will impact HP’s strategy or their possible spinoff of the PC business. We’ll see . . .

  

Young entrepreneurs are leaving Russia

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting for new technology at a nuclear testing laboratory in the town of Dubna, some 120 km (75 miles) north of Moscow, July 5, 2011. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukin (RUSSIA – Tags: POLITICS)

This is a huge problem for Russia and other countries that rely on cronyism and corruption.

When he was 17 years old, Alexei Terentev, then a bookish high school student in Moscow, created what the Russian government has been desperately trying to engineer — a start-up with some of that Silicon Valley–style magic. It was innovative, cleverly marketed and could be run out of his parents’ apartment. By June of last year, when Terentev got his diploma from one of Moscow’s elite universities, his company was on its way to making him a millionaire. But it was also getting big enough, he says, “to get the wrong kind of attention from officials.” So Terentev, now 22, took no chances. One day after graduation, he packed up his laptop and emigrated to the Czech Republic, taking his company with him. He doubts he will ever return.

The reasons for his move, as well as his haste, are the typical worries of the young entrepreneurs Russia is currently hemorrhaging: corruption and bureaucracy, the forces that are driving the biggest exodus since the fall of the Soviet Union. In the past three years, 1.25 million Russians have emigrated, most of them young businesspeople and members of the middle class, according to data released in February by the head of the state’s Audit Chamber. That is about a quarter million more than left the country during the first few years after the Soviet collapse, when Russia was a political and economic basket case. Now the country is stable and the cities are thriving. But small-business owners seem to feel less safe than ever.

Russians are paying the price for the thuggish atmosphere create by Vladimir Putin and his cronies. This is one reason why fears about the decline of America are overblown.

  

In stunning move, HP dumps CEO Hurd

Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd smiles at a news conference announcing his appointment at HP headquarters in Palo Alto, California in this March 30, 2005 file photo. Hewlett-Packard Co Chief Executive Hurd resigned on August 6, 2010 following an investigation of sexual harassment, the world's top computer maker said. REUTERS/Lou Dematteis/Files  (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS HEADSHOT)

This was a real shocker. Mark Hurd is known for the operational discipline he brought to HP, but now he’s been ousted for fudging his expense reports to cover up a personal relationship.

Mark V. Hurd, who turned Hewlett-Packard into the world’s largest technology company on the back of fierce fiscal discipline, has been ousted from his post for the lowliest of corporate offenses — fudging his expenses.

H.P.’s board stunned Silicon Valley and Wall Street late Friday by announcing Mr. Hurd’s resignation as chairman and chief executive of the computing and printing giant, involving what it said was a “close personal relationship” with a contractor who helped with the company’s marketing.

The woman’s lawyer contacted the company in late June, charging sexual harassment. While the directors were investigating that charge, they found inaccurate expense reports that covered payments made to the woman. The directors said, however, that the sexual harassment charge was unsubstantiated.

The board charged that Mr. Hurd, 53, failed to disclose his use of company funds. It urged Mr. Hurd to resign, but he balked and offered to compensate the company for the disputed funds, said to range from $1,000 to $20,000, according to a person close to Mr. Hurd who was briefed on the situation but was not authorized to speak publicly.

The board, however, insisted. “This was a necessary decision,” said Marc L. Andreessen, a venture capitalist and a director.

This seems like an extreme reaction, to say the least. It’s interesting that Hurd fought to keep his job – at least the story makes more sense now. It’s hard to imagine someone like him voluntarily quitting his CEO post over such an offense.

That said, the guy was pretty stupid.

Hurd helped to save HP after the mess left by Carly Fiorina, so it has to hurt letting such an operational genius go. But, it may have come at a good time for HP, as the company has squeezed out quite a bit of efficiency, and in the long run innovation and strategy matter as well.

  

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