Turf battles raging at HP

Rumours are flying about possible contenders for Carly Fiorina's chief executive gig should the HP-Compaq deal fall through.

"I want you to meet my family," Amber announced. It was our first Thanksgiving together, and that meant a good ol' traditional family dinner.

Family feud

Fortunately, I discovered Amber's family is pretty stable. But that's not the case where families Hewlett and Packard are concerned.

Of course we all know about the proxy fight, and what once was a family blessing has now turned into in-fighting.

According to my spy inside HP, that makes turning up to work a stressful experience.

The company is trying to buy some support with a one-time, two-day pay bonus for 2001 financial performance, he says, in preparation for February's shareholders meeting.

As Carly Fiorina struggles for control, sentiment about what co-founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard would have wanted is dominating the family battle.

Rumours are flying about possible contenders for Carly's chief executive gig should the deal fall through. The list includes Duane Zitzner, currently HP's president of computing systems and tabled to head up the post-merger access devices business. The other is Vyomesh Joshi, now HP's president of imaging and printing systems and planned boss of the post-merger imaging and printing franchise.

Another interesting rumour also suggests former leader Lew Platt may be brought back as chairman of the board, my source reports.

Of course, if the merger with Compaq still goes through, as many believe it will, then the possibility of layoffs seems strong.

And we all know that layoffs create disgruntled IT people. In fact, an unhappy ex-Cisco senior systems engineer observes that contrary to Cisco's official word, it has been replacing senior systems engineers with call centre staff in India without telling big customers. My source says he received a call from his former employer reminding him about the "no talking" agreement he signed in his layoff package. Interestingly enough, it seems one of Cisco's big telco customers has been asking pointed questions about where the systems engineers went.

Security concerns

Layoff talk is also circulating at the NSA spy agency, where my informant says the organisation will eject more than 1000 civilian employees by October 1 of next year. The NSA has already shifted around 700 IT experts to contract status. The result: morale is understandably low at the agency, as staff add job-security concerns to the stress of the September 11 tragedy.

"See, I said you'd have fun," Amber said. She was right, but with Thanksgiving done, there's still a lot of chowing down before the year is out.

Email rumours to cringe@infoworld.com.

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