HP could have picked someone with a proven record to be its next CEO. It could have picked someone who knew its business, maybe an internal candidate, or a rising star at a rival company. “It could have found someone with a job,” suggests Adam Lashinsky of Fortune. “It didn’t.” Instead, HP hired Léo Apotheker, whose last gig was as CEO of SAP, a business software firm that’s been getting killed by Microsoft and Oracle. He was fired after less than a year at the helm.
The business world reacted quickly to HP's choice: “Idiotic,” declared one European investor. “Astonishing,” said a US software executive. HP shares fell 3% on the news. In a call this morning, Apotheker said he’d refocus HP on software—which currently makes up only 3% of its business, according to Reuters. Nor was Apotheker a cheap hire. HP will pay him $4.6 million just to cover his moving expenses from Paris to California, plus a signing bonus of $4 million, an annual salary of $1.2 million, and an annual bonus 200 to 500 times that, according to CNET.