Meg Whitman, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s high profile CEO of six years, will be stepping down from her role in February. She will remain a member of the company’s board of directors. Whitman will be replaced by HPE President Antonio Neri who is being elevated to CEO and president.
The move doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Last summer, Whitman was rumored to be a possible successor to ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. She addressed those rumors in the company’s earnings call in September, noting that she was approached late in the Uber CEO search and that she thought they had an interesting business model. But she also said it wasn’t the right move for her. “I’ve dedicated the last six years of my life to this company, and there is much more work to do,” she said at the time.
Whitman was named CEO of Hewlett-Packard in 2011. Under her leadership, the company split into two entities —HP and HPE. She also oversaw the spinoff of HPE’s Enterprise Services and Software businesses as well as the acquisitions of Aruba, SGI, SimpliVity, and Nimble Storage.
During the company’s third quarter earnings call with investors today, Whitman addressed her departure by saying that she believes the next CEO of HPE needs to be more of a technologist. “I just think it’s the right thing to do. I also think Antonio is going to lead the next phase of value creation.”
Whitman also said that she’s looking forward to time off and said she will not go work for a competitor. “I’ll be a very active board member. After a 35-year nonstop career I’m looking forward to taking some time off. There’s no chance I’m going to a competitor. No chance. I love this company and I would never go to a competitor.”
Neri joined HP in 1995 and has worked his way up the ladder. Whitman was responsible for naming him president of HPE last June, and at the time she credited Neri with overseeing some of the most important businesses and initiatives at the company. She also said he helped with the acquisitions of Aruba, SGI, SimpliVity, and Nimble Storage.
Neri is also responsible for HPE Next, which is a program geared toward accelerating the company’s performance and competitiveness. Internally though, sources say HPE Next is a restructuring (i.e. layoffs) program.