Hewlett Packard & Pretexting-Does anybody ever take
September 8, 2006 It has surfaced in the news that certain Hewlett
Packard directors have had their private phone records accessed by
investigators working for Hewlett. In addition to the directors, nine
reporters of the Wall Street Journal also had their phone records
The reason for the action is because of leaks that were taking
place from Hewletts board of directors. At the moment it seems
the clowns (people) responsible for the actions are Larry Sonsini, the
outside counsel, and Patricia Dunn, who is Hewletts
non-executive chairman. In many states this type of activity is
outright illegal, and considered criminal.
Patricia Dunn is denying that she had any knowledge of how the
investigators obtained the information. What happens is that an
investigator will simply pose as someone they are not, in an attempt
to get that persons information. The inside general counsel of
Hewlett is Ann Baskins. She used an investigator who has not been
identified yet, who in turn used a private contractor to do the deed.
Whos driving the bus?
Whats going on here? Doesnt anybody take responsibility
for screwing up? Dan Rather was basically fired by CBS. After a 40
year career, he screwed up when he accused President Bush of receiving
favored treatment over his National Guard duty during the Viet Nam
war. The problem was not the truth, or non-truth of Rathers
allegations. The problem was two fold. One you had to prove it, and
Rather couldnt prove it. The second problem was Rather pulled
this stunt within a week of a Presidential election. Was he trying to
sway the election? No, of course not, Dan Rather wouldnt do
that, would he?
In the case of Hewlett Packard somebody should go to jail, and I
dont mean the little guy who did the deed. Chairman Dunn should
fall on her sword and be publicly fired, because this isnt the
sort of thing that should be accepted at a company. Why is it taking
so long? Is the company hoping that it will blow over, that this is a
two day media event that will then lose its steam, and we can move on
to whether Yankee pitching will hold up in the play-offs?
It always starts at the TOP
In any organization the corporate culture is dictated by the guy at
the top. It always starts there, and works its way right down to the
assembly floor. I have witnessed this in every organization I have
ever been associated with. A couple of decades ago, I was a Senior
Vice President of the oldest investment banking firm in the United
States. We traced our ancestry to the mid 1800s. Our partners
would float in and out of Cabinet positions in government.
My immediate boss was a senior partner, and member of the firms
Board of Directors. The man who I consider a mentor, was extremely
tough on everyone associated with him, and I mean tough. He could be
nasty beyond belief. I saw him on occasion walk over to an associate,
and remove the newspaper from his desk as he was reading it and rip it
up. Yes he was making a point, and I do believe people got the point.
One day, a psychiatrist says to me, You know Rich, the way he
treats his subordinates, is the way hes treated by his boss.
I say, you got to be kidding; no one would ever treat him like that. A
month or two later, I am up on the investment banking floor, and I
hear somebody getting a tremendous verbal beating. Sure enough, its
the Chairman of the company denigrating you know who. The Chairman was
unmerciful in his comments and the volume with which he made them.
Yes, it always starts at the top. People at Hewlett Packard have in
my opinion violated the criminal code of conduct by violating the
rights of people outside their corporate entity, namely reporters. In
the final analysis our founding fathers, were very persuasive in their
writings that freedom of speech, and in this case press, must be
protected at all costs. Once the rights of reporters to publish what
they believe is a fair and accurate assessment of a situation is
coerced by other people or in this case corporate entities, we are at
risk of going down the wrong path, and seeing a lessening of our
Heads should roll at Hewlett Packard. People should be made to walk
the plank. My greater concern is what does this say about the
corporate culture at this American corporation giant. Bill Hewlett and
David Packard who founded this company in a garage decades ago, would
turn over in their graves if they knew what had become of it.
This company needs to be shaken up. If they cant get their
act together on this one, what does it mean for how they operate as a
business, which involves my own circle of competence as a money
manager? The answer is I dont know, but I am sure going to be
taking a much closer look.
Goodbye and Good Luck