HP splitting the webOS GBU in two; software headed to Office of Strategy and Technology [exclusive]
Ready for things to get shaken up once more in Sunnyvale? Good, because it’s happening. We’ve received two memos sent to employees of HP’s webOS Global Business Unit that tell the story of how HP is splitting the former Palm, Inc. into two separate units that will report to separate divisions of HP. The hardware division will stay under the Personal Systems Group and continue to report to Stephen DeWitt. The software side – the side that HP’s still interested in – is to be split off and moved over to HP’s Office of Strategy and Technology, where they’ll report to EVP Shane Robison.
If splitting Palm’s hardware and software divisions sounds familiar, well, it should. That’s exactly what Palm did back in 2003 when they split into palmOne (hardware, after merging with Handspring) and PalmSource (software). It was a disaster, with PalmSource floundering with operating system development and getting purchased by mobile browser builder ACCESS a few years later for a paltry $324 million (that purchase eventually resulted in the Access Linux Platform, which also went nowhere).
Palm split back in 2003 so they could get around a problem we’d discussed as a potential liability for HP: licensing software while making competing hardware. HP’s shutdown of webOS hardware development, while traumatizing, did help remove that impediment. Splitting the webOS GBU into two could enable the absorption of the webOS hardware team into the rest of the PSG (or just a smoother shuttering). Heck, this could allow them to serve as a webOS-licensing mobile tech development business after the PSG is spun-off, though that's not exactly a possibility we'd consider likely (though we'd find it amusing to see the new software-only HP licensing webOS to its former hardware half)
Moving webOS software under the Office of Strategy and Technology will serve two purposes: the first being getting webOS out of the soon-to-be-spun-off PSG and keeping it as a property of the new software and services HP, and the second being giving webOS a closer relationship to HP’s multi-billion research and development fund and personnel. The OS&T is considered by HP to be an “incubator” for their tech businesses, where they’re currently applying TLC to HP’s Cloud Services, Vertica, and Business Solutions units.
According to Robison’s letter to the webOS software team, they can expect that not much will change, saying that they “will continue to operate under their current systems and processes,” at least for now. Except for who reports to who, with webOS development chief Ari Jaaksi and VP of developer relations Richard Kerris reporting directly to Robison.
Both the letter from Todd Bradley announcing the split and Shane Robison’s message to the webOS software team are after the break.
Message from Todd Bradley
Earlier this month, I told you about our difficult but necessary decision to discontinue the development of our webOS hardware devices.
However, the webOS platform that powers these devices continues to demonstrate its ability to improve how our customers look up information, access entertainment and stay connected on the go. As you know, the company is investigating the best ways to leverage webOS software and grow its applications environment.
With this in mind, we have decided that we'll be most effective in these efforts by having the teams in webOS software engineering, worldwide developer relations and webOS software product marketing join the Office of Strategy and Technology under Shane Robison. This change is effective immediately.
The remainder of the webOS team, under Stephen DeWitt, will continue to report into PSG; later today, Stephen will reach out to these teams with an update.
I am excited about the opportunity this move creates for all of HP.
Reorganizing the webOS software teams under OS&T allows us to fully investigate how we can utilize the webOS software platform. The pan-HP charter of OS&T provides a broad view of how we can optimize our technologies. In fact, it has proven to be a successful incubator of technologies; it is home to a team of senior technology experts devoted exclusively to exploring longer-term strategies for our technologies. Currently, OS&T is incubating the HP Cloud Services business units, Vertica and Business Solutions.
I would like to thank the teams moving to OS&T for their hard work, innovation and devotion to creating a differentiated customer experience. Their efforts are evident in the intuitive elegance of webOS, and they will not soon be forgotten.
Meanwhile, during this time of transition and internal analysis, we in PSG must continue to ensure that our customers, partners, colleagues and friends understand that we remain focused on creating amazing products, winning new business and showing the world why we continue to be the largest, most profitable PC company in the world.
Executive Vice President Personal Systems Group
Organizational Announcement: webOS Teams to Join OS&T
EVP, Chief Strategy and Technology Officer
Office of Strategy and Technology
TO/ OST Employees
SUBJECT/ Organizational Announcement: webOS Teams to Join OS&T
Two weeks ago we announced the transformation of HP for the future. As part of that change we made a very tough decision to exit the webOS hardware device business. At the same time we recognized the value inherent in the webOS software platform. Not only because of its elegant, intuitive interface, but because of our strategic focus on cloud, connectivity, services and software, and printing.
I’m pleased that the executive team has decided that the webOS software teams will be best served joining the Office of Strategy and Technology while we investigate how to leverage the webOS platform and its ecosystem. This move also supports the teams’ continued efforts with over-the-air updates and the application catalog.
As a result, the webOS software engineering, developer relations, and software product marketing teams will become a part of OS&T, effective immediately. Ari Jaaksi, senior vice president leading webOS software engineering, and Richard Kerris, vice president leading webOS worldwide developer relations, will report to me. Lee Ott, the senior director of webOS software product marketing, will report to Ari.
With our focus on business and technology strategy, OS&T will be able to provide these teams with the resources and support they need as we define the best monetization model. The webOS software employees join HP Cloud Services, Vertica, and Business Solutions as an incubating business group. However, while these teams will be joining OS&T we have decided not to initiate any integration activities. These teams will continue to operate under their current systems and processes until further notice.
The webOS software is still a great asset. I am excited with the opportunity we have ahead of us and I look forward to the success of the team as a part of OS&T. Please join me in welcoming them.