Acrobats did vertical dances down ribbons from an overhead gantry and a rock band built the anticipation to a climax as HP CEO Mark Hurd walked to the lectern.
Seven thousand people clapping hands make an awful lot of applause. That's what happened when Hurd stepped onto the stage at a Las Vegas conference centre to kick-off HP's technical forum.
The crowd loved the swagger with which HP introduced the event and we all knew; HP is back. That loss of confidence during the draining year or more of the Compaq acquisition, the decline and fall of Carly Fiorina, and its potentially deadly pre-texting aftermath, is gone. The slate is wiped clean.
HP is about to become a $100 billion corporation in annual revenue terms. It ships 2 printers a second, a PC every second, a server near enough every ten seconds; this company has emerged from the Fiorina years, as if they were a strange and bad dream.
Mark Hurd is subtle, forceful, self-deprecating sometimes, and comfortable at the helm. He said there is much more to do. HP is mid-way through an amazing revolution in its IT infrastructure, downsizing its data centre estate from 50 plus to just six. It is building what could be a jewel of a data warehouse and, in the process, showcasing its own kit. This is a bet-the-company gamble.
A generational difference is beginning to occur in the top ranks of HP as Hurd reshapes the executive ranks to suit his perceived needs. Dave Roberson comes on board to run StorageWorks. Bob Schultz is eased sideways. More of this will happen as what is becoming the old guard, the Schultz-Livermore generation so to speak, give way to new people.
HP has overtaken Dell and could be about to become a truly great company. One hundred million bucks a year and counting. The numbers are mind-boggling and the prospects glittering. Las Vegas knows that a renewed IT high-roller is walking its streets.
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