Update: Hurd promises 'execution-oriented culture' at HP

'Everything that we do must be for the customer,' he says

Hewlett-Packard Co.'s new CEO, Mark Hurd, took questions from news reporters and financial analysts today. But he offered little information about how he may shape HP's technology direction.

Hurd, who said he only arrived at HP's headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., last night, politely ducked questions about how he may execute on his strategy -- whether, for example, he might turn to more outsourcing.

But he did say at the news conference that HP needs repairs. While calling the company "fundamentally sound" and a leader in many categories and services, he said, "it is also clear that the company is not performing to its potential."

Hurd would not critique his predecessor's performance, saying he would focus on the future. "I'm not here today to pass judgment on the past few years."

He also stressed that he would keep customer concerns in the forefront."What you can except from me is a relentless focus on serving the needs of the customer," said Hurd. "This market is too competitive and too dynamic for us to ever take our eye off that objective.

"Everything that we do must be for the customer. If it's not, then we consider why at all we're doing it," he said.

Earlier in the day, in a conference call with analysts, he had talked about the importance of industry-standard platforms. "I'm aware of the fierce competition in the IT industry," he said, "and the ongoing shift to industry-standard platforms."

Hurd, who until yesterday was the CEO of NCR Corp., did not delve into a topic many analysts seemed interested in: whether he might spin off some parts of the company's business, just as IBM recently did with its PC business.

When IT executives talk about "industry-standard platforms," they usually mean anything but RISC and, to some extent, Unix. But Hurd didn't open that door, instead pointing broadly to "the potential of HP's portfolio of products and services, the tremendous growth and profit opportunities, a significant patent portfolio, a strong balance sheet and generally improving financials with strong cash-flow generation."

HP has invested heavily in its HP-UX operating system but is getting out of the PA-RISC chip business in favor of using Intel Corp.'s Itanium processors and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s Opteron devices.

Hurd didn't say whether he would reduce HP's workforce, now at about 150,000 employees, or take any actions other than to meet executives and learn about the company and its markets.

But Hurd also said that he would be focused on results.

"I believe in an execution-oriented culture," he said. "My management style reflects a fundamental belief in cost discipline and focused investment in strategic growth initiatives."

According to documents filed by the company with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday, Hurd's employment agreement is for four years at a base salary of $1.4 million. But bonus and stock-option agreements will bring his salary up to millions of dollars. It includes a $2 million cash signing bonus paid within 30 days of April 1, his first official day on the job.

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