Monday, December 05, 2011

Former HP Chairwoman Patricia Dunn Dies after Cancer Battle

Patricia Dunn, the former chairwoman of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)'s board who became a controversial figure in the company's "pre-texting" scandal, died Sunday at the age of 58 after a long battle with cancer.

This pre-texting at Hewlett Packard took place during the Hurd era. It was a big deal in the business press. Mark (I did not date that woman) Hurd, CEO at the time, admitted that he had approved the investigator’s tactics of using “pre-texting” to search for leaks among board members. Pre-texting the practice of presenting oneself as someone else in order to obtain private information. In colloquial terms, telling a lie about whom you are to get info.

This was one of the major incidents illustrating how far Hewlett-Packard had strayed from the HP Way and the ideals of their founders. Other tactics used included “tracking e-mails” and surveillance of reporters. Not pretty. Congress ultimately declared the practice of pre-texting illegal.

Hewlett Packard has come a long way since then. The family culture that HP had is probably gone forever, though. In fact, it may not be a successful culture for today’s business world. An interesting book came out about Hewlett Packard and this era in 2010 - "The Big Lie: Spying, Scandal, and Ethical Collapse at Hewlett Packard" by Anthony Bianco.

Sympathy to the family.

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