Meg Whitman: Yes I spoke to Uber but I have a long-term commitment to HPE

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Meg Whitman: Yes I spoke to Uber but I have a long-term commitment to HPE
Meg Whitman, HPE

Hewlett Packard Enterprise chief executive Meg Whitman told CRN USA she is firmly committed to leading HPE into the future.

"I would like to underscore to partners that I have a long-term commitment to HPE and to the partners and to the mission that we are on," said Whitman in an exclusive interview with CRN USA on Tuesday.

"Yes, I talked to Uber [about the CEO job] at the end of their process because it is a business model I am very familiar with. It reminds me of eBay [where Whitman was CEO from 1998 to 2008] in many ways. But it wasn't the right thing. I think HPE is very special in its own right."

Whitman had asserted in a tweet on 27 July that she planned to remain the chief executive at HPE after reports that she was on the short list for the Uber chief executive job.

The Uber board, however, spoke to Whitman about the Uber chief executive job over the weekend of August 26 after former GE chief executive Jeff Immelt took himself out of contention. The Uber board ultimately selected Expedia chief executive Dana Khosrowshahi.

The Whitman pledge of "long-term commitment" came as HPE delivered better-than-expected earnings results for its third fiscal quarter ended 31 July.

The company's core server sales were up 13 percent; it reported 200 percent growth in SimpliVity hyper-converged sales; 30 percent growth in all-flash sales driven by Nimble and a whopping 30 percent growth in the Aruba wireless LAN business, with 70 new customers wins.

"Nearly 100 percent of the Aruba business goes through the channel and 70 to 80 percent of the core enterprise group business goes through the channel, so the channel did a great job," said Whitman. "The channel deserves a lot of credit for the results of the company both the new logo wins as well as selling  more into the installed base."

Overall HPE reported non-GAAP diluted net earnings per share of 30 cents per share on sales of $8.2 billion. The Wall Street consensus was non-GAAP diluted net earnings of 26 cents per share on sales of $7.49 billion. HPE shares were up $0.70 (4.99%) to $14.74 in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

Whitman told CRN USA the strong results are evidence that the reinvention of HPE into a smaller, more nimble company focused on making hybrid IT simple, powering the intelligent edge and providing digital transformation IT services is paying off in the form of higher sales growth and margins for partners.

"The partners should be pleased by the results of the company," said a charged up Whitman. "This will give their customers the confidence to buy from HPE. I am feeling good about where we are as a company, and I am feeling great about the partners and distributors that we do business with every day."

Stabilising server sales

Whitman said she is especially proud of the stabilisation of the core server business which will help drive better results for partners. HPE's strong Synergy composable infrastructure sales have even driven up sales of bread and butter C7000 blade sales, she said. Customers feel confident in the server road map with blades and Synergy, said Whitman.

Whitman said HPE is accelerating its reinvention of the company with HPE NEXT initiative aimed driving even great customer facing efficiencies and sales growth for HPE and it partners.That could pay off, for example, in faster price quotes for and more rapid delivery to customers, said Whitman.

"For the past five or six years we have talked about being a more partner-friendly company and being easier to do business with," said Whitman.

"Virtually all of the partners would say we have made progress, but there is more work to do with the ability to quote fast, turn around orders faster, and to have a quicker supply chain."

Whitman says she envisions simplified supply chain which could result in dramatic benefits for partners. "Everything we are doing is trying to make this company to be simpler and easier to do business with so partners can be more successful selling Hewlett Packard Enterprise," she said.

As for the HPE acquisition this week of Cloud Technology Partners  – a born in the cloud, agnostic solution provider with deep AWS, Google and Azure expertise, Whitman said partners should rest assured that HPE will continue to be a "channel-first" company.

"We are very much still a channel-first model and a channel-first priority," said Whitman. "We always say that if the channel has the services to serve their own customer base, we will not get in the way, they should go do that."

If partners do not have the services capabilities customers are looking for they can augment their services capabilities with HPE Pointnext consulting and advisory services, said Whitman, noting that Cloud Technology Partners is focused on the Fortune 100.

"We never want to get in the way of the services that partners provide to their customers," she said. "If a partner has advisory and transform services they are providing their customers with so be it we won't get in their way."

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