Seventy-six years after Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded Hewlett-Packard in a Palo Alto garage, the company is set to embark on a grand experiment to take the culture of innovation and invention that the two entrepreneurs prized to even greater heights as two separate companies.
The Hewlett and Packard legacy is one that HP employees and partners are taking to heart as the once US$110 billion company becomes Hewlett Packard Enterprise, a US$53 billion company with 252,000 employees focused on the enterprise computing market, and HP Inc., a US$55 billion company with more than 50,000 employees focused on the printing and personal computer market.
Christoph Schell, who started at HP as a 21-year-old college intern in 1995 and now heads up the HP Inc. business in the Americas, said he hopes Bill and Dave, as they are known to HPers, would have been proud of the innovation offensive taking place as a result of the split into two companies.
"It's a very emotional moment," said Schell, who recently moved into his new office in HP Inc. headquarters just a short walk from Hewlett and Packard's original offices, which are preserved as if they still worked at HP. "I think the future is really bright with the innovation that we have. I really hope they would be proud and they would see a lot of continuity in how they managed the business."
Schell said the management principles that Hewlett and Packard created and nurtured are still flourishing at the two companies, including the long-standing rule that HP employees can "escalate to anyone and talk to anyone to get stuff done. That has never gone away. I remember that from my internship days. It is still here, and we have underlined it."
Schell also points to a founding management principle of working in smaller teams to drive innovation. HP Inc., in fact, has established a separate unit to drive the 3-D printing business.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO and HP Inc. chairman Meg Whitman is celebrating the official launch of Hewlett Packard Enterprise by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange with the HPE ticker symbol front and center (HP Inc. will trade under HP's current ticker symbol, HPQ). Joining Whitman at the NYSE will be partners and customers, including Ingram Micro CEO Alain Monie.
HP Inc., meanwhile, is celebrating the formal launch with an all-hands meeting with employees, customers and 70 partners from around the globe at its Palo Alto, California, headquarters.
Thomas Jensen, vice president of worldwide channel sales and strategy for HP Inc., said including partners in employee meetings is part of "re-emphasizing the meaning of the channel in the new HP with much more focus, engagement and cooperation with the channel."
HP Inc. views channel partners as an independent extension of the company. "That is the signal that we want to send by having them at our employee meeting and giving them first-hand access to what happens on the very first day that we operate as a new company," said Jensen.
"We do not want to treat them as someone that we just involve when we need them or someone that we are negotiating prices with. We truly see them as an independent extension of HP Inc., and we need them more than ever to create success for our joint customers."
It is no small matter that the garage that is the birthplace of the entrepreneurial technology culture that has thrived in Silicon Valley will be available to both companies.
Schell, for his part, said the innovation culture that Hewlett and Packard prized is alive and well. "The No. 1 point is that we have that innovation," he said.
"Both companies going forward will have HP Labs. We want to have that innovation. We have dedicated teams around innovation, and a CTO. Innovation is not just a PowerPoint slide to us. We really mean it."