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Help Wanted: CEO of largest technology
company out there. Immediate opening.

Following Friday’s surprise
resignation of HP CEO Mark Hurd
after a sexual harassment investigation, HP
has launched a search for a permanent replacement to lead the company. And it
won’t be an easy task to fill the position with someone as respected in the
industry as Hurd. Hurd was widely credited with bringing HP back to its former
glory. Popular with customers and channel partners, Hurd frequently met with
them, putting a face on technology purchases.

"It’s difficult to view Hurd’s departure as anything but negative for
HP," writes Toni Sacconaghi, senior analyst at Bernstein Research, in a
brief report looking at the impact of Hurd’s resignation. "Hurd’s arrival
at HP triggered a marked inflection point in the company’s financial
performance and his tenure was characterized by massive outperformance in HP’s
stock."

Still, it shouldn’t be difficult for HP to attract some very strong
candidates to replace Hurd as CEO.
Sacconaghi points out that HP’s "attractive location (Palo
Alto, Calif.), extraordinary
history and brand, and huge revenue base (largest of any tech company globally)"
will make it easy for the company to "attract an extremely talented
individual. While HP has not provided a timeline for finding a new executive,
we note that [Carly] Fiorina resigned February 9, 2005 and Hurd started as the new CEO
less than 2 months later."

Sacconaghi says that it’s more likely for HP to choose an external candidate
than an internal candidate, although several
names have been floated as a possible replacement
from within with
some smart
money on Ann Livermore
. Certainly, an internal candidate aligned with Hurd’s
strategy may be perceived as continuing with his legacy that has proven so
successful for HP over the last five years.

And it’s a critical time for that strategy. HP is battling it out in the
field to win deals for end-to-end data center technologies, from servers to
networking to PCs to storage to mobility. Cisco is offering the same kind of
lineup and going head-to-head with HP in the trenches. VARs have told Channel
Insider that the competition
between the two companies is the nastiest
it has ever been in the field.
Plus, there’s speculation that Hurd could join an HP competitor, further
complicating matters for HP at a crucial time in industry history.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of talented
individuals external to HP who could lead the company going forward, and it’s a
job that many will covet.