Jon Rubinstein, former Palm CEO, leaves HP | webOS Nation

Jon Rubinstein, former Palm CEO, leaves HP 76

by Derek Kessler Fri, 27 Jan 2012 1:06 pm EST

Former Palm CEO and Palm Global Business Unit head Jon Rubinstein has left HP effective today, according to a new report from AllThingsD. Rubinstein joined HP as part of the company's purchase of Palm, leading the Palm Global Business Unit as in the lead-up to the TouchPad launch. He was then shifted into a "SVP of Product Innovation" role within the HP Personal Systems Group, a position that we expected was a sort of ease-out job for Rubinstein.

Rubinstein joined Palm in 2007 as Chairman and led the development of webOS and the Palm Pre, which launched in 2009. Soon after he took over as CEO from Palm veteran Ed Colligan. In 2011 HP announced their plans to purchase Palm, bringing Rubinstein into the HP organization in the process.

Then not that long ago HP pulled the plug on webOS device hardware. We can imagine it was a devastating blow for Rubinstein, who had invested years of his work into building the platform. According to AllThingsD, Rubinstein hadn't been seen at HP or Palm since the decision had been made. Can't say we're surprised - we'd be pretty disenchanted if that happened to us too.

We've reached out to HP for comment on the matter, but in the meantime we'll say this: Jon, we'll miss you. You've had a substantial impact on the mobile space for many years, one that will be felt for some time to come. We don't know where you're going from here, but if we had to guess, it'd be to that hammock that Colligan dragged you out of back in 2007. Hope we'll see you around!

Update: We just heard back from HP on Rubinstein's departure, here's their official comment on the matter: "Jon Rubinstein has fulfilled his commitment to HP; we wish him well." We've also heard that HP is not aware of any plans that Rubinstein has to go to another company (or start a new one with Open webOS - wouldn't that be delicious?), so we'd guess that the hammock, pitcher of margaritas, and Mexican beach sand are definitely in Jon's future.

Source: AllThingsD



Bye Jon, you will be missed! Go start a new company and build phones for the open source WebOS!

Jon, now you can try an iPhone. You remember, the phone that grew out of the Ipod you developed, that you said you'd never tried. Yeah, that Iphone.

Who cares I say! I blame Joe for allowing the horrific/terrible/atrocious marketing to bury Web OS and Palm back in 2009. You promised the world a lot in January 2009 CES and didn't deliver half of that until June 2009. YOu allowed Android to come into the market and did nothing Joe.

When Marketing classes talk about "what not to do with your product" Palm and Joe Rubenstein's name will be right there.

thank god, great ideas but such poor execution esp from an Apple hardware guy. John Ive vs Ruby, Steve chose Johnny

Is this the best you can offer?

No but I had to write fast to still be the second comment on the article.

I agree with your first comment. This one here though, loser like. Typing fast to be second? Really?

My attempts at being funny

Some stuff was bad execution that was avoidable (marketing fail).
But a lot was Palm already being short on cash.

The less than adequate quality control and lack of features at launch (the missing video function didn't bother me personally, but it bothered many and was clearly an expected function on a modern phone - especially a smartphone) smells of Palm being desperate of getting stuff out to sell.

Looking back, one of the dumbest things they did was try to make a new phone and try to get rich at the same time. When Ruby took over, Palm had half a billion in cash just sitting in the bank. They gave it all away, doing what amounted to a leveraged buy out. They borrowed money to replace the cash, just as banking was collapsing and interest rates were going through the roof. The borrowing cost them millions over what they estimated.

The short runway that Palm had was made even shorter by the financial guys.

i'd agree, most of his falling out at apple was because apple had some idealistic designs, super high standards, and a large attention to detail and design.

Ruby was the practical guy. The you can't do that cause it's expensive or not practical guy. He wasn't the slick design guru dreamer engineer that was Ive. Ruby struck me as kinda boring with his high dad jeans and button down shirt tucked into his pants.

And i thought the products of the Pre were kinda lackluster. I excuse the first pearl shape. nice try after that i thought it looked not innovative and old. But what i see their is the ruby effect. Ive would not have made those products look like that. He'd have wanted aluminum or better design. And i think What we got under Ruby just didn't resonate past the webos community and not with the regular guy when he walks into a Verizon store.

Jon did succeed in producing phones that were as cheap as they looked.

that's kinda like being a success at shooting your toe off.

Wouldn't have guessed. The guy has been practically invisible the past six months after HP pulled him as far away from webOS as they could. HP is dropping a deadweight, really.


Sounds like someone is moving onto another failing company, RIM. Jon will destroy that too. He was a wannabe Steve Jobs. He had none of Jobs' drive or determination.

I don't think he lacked drive or determination. I just don't think he is the salesman that Jobs was. He didn't have the marketing acumen. Anyone with marketing acumen would've looked at the early commercials for the Pre and never let them on the air. Those ads (i.e., the "creepy Palm girl) were the beginning of the end for WebOS as a commercial product.

Me i don't think he had the vision or style when it comes to product design as i said above. Either with the hardware or with the total sofware vision. There are obviously lots of positives like the general look of webos but i was always perplexed by some of the little things that were lacking like a scrobbler in the beginning or done is a way i thought was cumbersome like copy and paste or media syncing. And i thought the hardware design was pretty boring. And i don't think that jobs ever had that problem

I don't understand why people keep blaming adds. Trust me they could have had the best adds in the world but it still wouldn't have made a difference because the pre was dysfunctional and highly unreliable. The 28 months I had my pre I went through 9 of them. They just kept failing. Nobody wants a product that isn't reliable and doesn't work like its suppose to. Then there was the fact that it had no apps. I'm surprised that he chose to leave as opposed to HP firing him.

i don't get it either especially since i decided to buy a pre well before the adds came out, the iphone sells really well before a single commercial is launched, and i've never ever bought a dumb phone based on some add. that said i think part of it is and effort to blame all but the product.

I don't buy my phones based on commercials, or how they are perceived by others, too. But so called "general public" does. And two of us could not make or break webOS, the "general public" could and did.

Crappy Pre hardware + crappy commercials to boot, did the trick.

On the original story - I could not care less, I was hoping after all these decision-making blunders, that HP will get rid of Palm's pathetic leadership ASAP after take over, and put somebody with balls and brains behind the wheel. Sadly, I've learned that they were missing in this department as well.

"we'd guess that the hammock, pitcher of margaritas, and Mexican beach sand are definitely in Jon's future."
...sadly, I think you are right. It is funny in today's America, once you break into the high ranks, you are all set, regardless of your performance. Even if you run the company to the ground, (and the brilliant product - TWICE!), you will be just fine... So sad that same cannot be said about the hundreds of dedicated people, who are behind the webOS.

So, mr Rubinstein, I for one will definitely NOT miss you at all, I think your leadership as Palm's CEO and later webOS GBU was an utter nonsense, and the display of lack of market-savvy, lack of knowing your market, lack of listening to your customers, and general incompetence, displayed over and over again. You've failed your customers at every step, you lied to us or were promising things that you never intended (or wasn't in the position) to deliver, you have failed your employees who dedicated their futures and long hours (that I can only bet on, but sure as **** they did so) to your "leadership" and decision making.

And for you, a "hammock" for all of that?? Maybe, a hammock on the galley, would be more appropriate. You are responsible for wasting it all, sir, cause it is you who was (supposedly...) in charge.

Wouldn't it be hilarious if,

he formed a startup company using the OS WebOS?

He can call it, Maple.

Steve Jobs would send fire and brimstone up from underworld and destroy the company.

nothing to prevent him from doing it except that he needs people with tons of money to back him.

...and idiots who would be willing to work for him.

instead of apple, maple or palm he could point to his preferred hang out in mexico and call it... cactus! :D


Jon's big contribution, spoofing iTunes and turning Palm into the Psystar of the mobile industry. Good riddance!

That's way too harsh. The Pre was a lot more than just a device to sync to iTunes. WebOS had real potential. The marketing just sucked.

need much more then potential and a nice user interface. You need a product line and execution. And honestly do you really need marketing if the product is great? People line up for iphones before there are even commercials advertising. Starbucks does just find and they don't have commercials either. I think if people really loved the phone, and i mean more then the webos enthusiast, but the average non techy mother in a store to replace an old phone; If they really loved the phone they'd buy it w/o good marketing.

the marketing sucked, but much more importantly the hardware sucked. and jon was the hardware guy. so there you have it. palm is dead, hp killed it and we're all left hoping we can port webos to an android phone sometime in the next 2 years.

the os had plenty of flaws too. lag, lack of updates, short of features in some areas.

"lag" is the mythical beast that have killed webOS... I don't know, I've never suffered from it. And since 1GHz Uberkernel, my Pre was as snappy as snapping the twig. Sadly, no homebrew patches could patch my cracking on it's own screen, or cure the wobbly slider mechanism.

Lack of updates??? But you meant 2011, yes, the year when webOS was practically dead anyway?? In 2010, I was thrilled with the speed and amount of updates my PHONE was getting, hassle-free, over the air. Much more and better than competition.

There it is. The somber close to this chapter in Ruby’s life. I’ve been asking “where’s Ruby” for a while, always liked him. Hopefully we’ll see him in some startup someday. Safe travels, sir. And thanks for iPods and bringing webOS to market.

He did a lot for innovation with the software. I just wish he had a better business plan when it was Palm.

Best of luck!!!

I won't miss his mismanagement. He was great making webOS what it was but his horrible decisions involving hardware and marketing fast tracked Palm into the **** Plus he had a horrible stage presence and couldn't build any confidence for Palm. Palm could have been a phoenix if they just would have put the right guy in charge.

totally agree.

Why couldn't he have stayed on for just three more days? Then we could call it "Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday."

Anybody want to bet that he still has a Veer in his pocket? I'll bet it went into the toilet months ago.

Check out the Verge inteview with him posted today

Claims to be still using it.

He's almost certainly the only one. The Veer was a **** of an idea.

I got a Pre-, Pre 2 and Veer. Veer was bought for €59 as a gimmick. I tried it once for the fun and guess what, I have never since booted one of my Pre's. Veer form factor is just uber!

His accomplishment at Palm was a bright chapter in his book, just as his work creating i-devices at Apple was. I always thought he was a brilliant engineer and he has made positive marks on the industry.

If he was in fact on leave since August of 2011, then I respect him even more. Hopefully he's headed back to Mexico w/ bags upon bags of gold.

Jon: Siri, send a message to HP. I quit.

Pretty sure it wasn't his decision.

Does it really matter?

Don't be so sure. Once HP was acquired and made it clear their concerns, design ideas, and timeframe would go above all, there was no point for him in staying even if he wanted to.

He doesn't need the money.

Jon's career can be viewed with mixed reviews. His work at Apple led to the iPod but in the Jobs bio, Steve Jobs minimized his impact and characterized him as soft compared to his colleagues.

Jon will be credited for building a team that truly rethought mobile devices and carried over the best of what Palm did. Some of their best ideas have been assimilated into other devices but not all. Yet, his hardware was alpha quality at best and didn't mature until well after the company was sold (Pre2/3).

Finally, his vision for a family of devices that worked well together is something worthy of implementing and has yet to be adopted by anyone. But his inability to break with the past and bring something wholly new to the market was a disaster that ended with a surrender worthy of a continental European power at the hands of **** Germany in WWII.

Shades of brilliance with little market success. That's how he should be remembered - until his next act.

Jon will be credited for building a team that truly rethought mobile devices and carried over the best of what Palm did.

Except he didn't, did he? The best of what Palm did was glaringly missing from the result of his work.

yeah is that being credited by developers or by consumers. Because i think to consumers the mobile device is exactly the same. they go to a store, buy a phone, it texts, emails, surfs the web, plays music, and has apps. It did it before a palm pre and it did it after. If the guy above you means this whole it's built on web technology and html thing. Well that's developer stuff. The teenager in the verizon store or the guy getting a phone from his job doesn't know or care about that. So to me getting credit from a bunch of insider web designers and coders isn't really important in the grand scheme of things. Especially when it's not like everyone is doing it like he did building their phone with html if i understand the process right. It's still android, ios, windows phone 7 and Rim.

I took his statement to mean "brining over the things that Palm did well and incorporating it into this newly rethought mobile device".

Problem is the thing that Palm really did well was PIM. The excelled in it. What Jon and his team produced did not. webOS enthusiast and consumers alike have complained about this time and time again.

PIM, data continuity and highly versatile and durable hardware with deep batteries. Pre was the only Palm product to not offer all of these values. So if you were a Palm customer, Pre was a FAIL while still int he box. If you were new to Palm, it was crappy piece of plastic that was capable of multi-tasking powerful apps, that never existed while spending much of the day recharging.

"Jon will be credited for making the phrase 'in the coming months' famous."

I still have nightmares about that phrase.

Good idea guy, but he gave the most confidence-shattering, uninformative interviews and commentaries on earnings calls. I think only RIM's Lazaridis is worse in that area.

If he gets involved in the industry again, I hope it is strictly behind the scenes.

As always -- was fitting I read this first here. That said, the Verge group managed to score a great interview with Ruby -- worth a read (ie: no, inertia1, he didn't flush his veer).

He didn't say much about what happened with the TP but it seems like the TP was already in the works when HP acquired Palm.

well deserved time off = deserve to be unemployed

it was just a matter of time...without hardware, webos will start to fade if it hasnt already.

Being that apple, Android and Rim are incorporating many of webOS features into their OS's (synergy, multitasking, cards, notifications and so on....) proves that Jon was a visionary that contributed to much of the success that apple enjoyed while he was there. Taking his visions to an underfunded company like Palm and then having Palm purchased by a shortsighted conglomerate like HP pretty much ended his dreams but least they will continue on with the open sourcing of webOS and also in the other OS's that ripped off webOS.

Nobody talks about how bad Palm was during the time Ruby joined. They were ready to bankrupt.

Overall, he deserves credit for assembling a team of rock stars. Matias, Micheal Abbott and the Nokia guy, Mike Bell, ,,,,, the list goes on.

Good bye and Good luck Jon. We hope you comeback in some capacity to help webOS.

Prior to Jon, Palm was inventing the netbook and abandoned it about six months before netbooks stormed the market. The failure to launch the Foleo killed Palm and they were reborn as Palm/EP which created a great O/S and showcased it on the worst hardware the market has ever seen, but caught the attention of Palm/HP. HP continued to evolve the o/s beyond the grasp of the market (consumers and developers), and also failed to use "scale" to create compelling hardware.

Derek, you have to get an interview with him!

Jon, please let precentral know first where you're going so we can short that company's stock. Thanks.


Dont worry, most aluminum siding companies are not public.

I for one wish him well. Since Leo wanted to shut down the webOS division from the beginning rather that supply the multi-year funding support that is required to build a successful phone/tablet product infrastructure, it doesn't look like Rubinstein was given anywhere near the timeline that was necessary to actually accomplish the goals at hand. On another note, I think the Pre series are well engineered devices, but unfortunately a poorly manufactured ones. It's hard enough to engineer a smart phone, and another thing altogether to engineer one within the capabilities of the manufacturer.

Yeah I think the design of Pre's was excellent but the manufacturing process took the cheap way out. All the cost cutting yielded high returns and tarnished Palm's reputation and earned them the carriers' dislike. Using underpowered cpus didn't help. I am much happier with my pre2 over my old overclocked Pre+ performance and helps me appreciate the elegance of webOS. WebOS with its use of web technologies was way ahead of its time but also required better hardware to appreciate. Homebrew solutions helped but many new users never got to that stage. The Touchpad had some of those performance issues at least until some software upped its performance. HP or future webOS hardware company had better learn the one lesson Apple knows well (despite iOS limitations)- make sure the all aspects of user experience hardware and software is good.

On June 6th, 2009, I walkedd into a Sprint store with my Treo 650 and took one look at the original Palm Pre and even though I bought one strictly or webOS I commented to the Sprint salesman that the hardware just sucked and I give it less than year.

The sales guy told me I was crazy to say that and the Pre would put the IPhone out of business.

Then I also told a sales guy at Circuit City who tried to sell me a DIVX Player that it would kill the DVD biz. Alas, CC and DIVX are both gone.


By the end of my first 30 days, I was on my 3rd Pre. I am still with Sprint and using a Pre. Luckily I have the Insurance since I have gone through 9 of them in almost 3 years. I am now told that I may not be able to get any replacements much longer since supplies are running low.

The bottom line here is, if Palm had used a Decent piece of hardware. Things would have been very different now and webOS would have been where Android is now.

Not sure folks on the Nation are following,
the comments section on the exit interview of Jon on the Verge is funny. There is someone who is spewing venom on Ruby.

Check for yourself.

pixi, palm pre, veer, pre3, good work mate. I understand the build quality of the Pre Minus because of budget constraints.

that must have sucked. Running a tight ship isn't ur forte (palm), its making the best devices with unlimited resources. (ipod)

you are a success in my books, webOS is an amazing OS. Good show. Look at all ypu have contributed to the OSS community.

you fought a good fight. In the end palm was doomed. Thanks for the hard work.

thanks for an OS that combined the best of both worlds (iphone= easabiity) (android = utilitarianism) and combining them into an OS.

I'm sure you had some say I webps beoming open source. Thanks.

Some comments are a little undeserved. Palm was already in very bad shape when he came into the picture, and I would say he came too late. Palm needed more time to come out with a stellar product for their debut phone, but obviously they did not have that time, thus the Pre. Everyone knows the Pre 2 is what the original Pre should have been, but the timing wasn't possible.

Every project manager has 3 variables to manage: A project has to be within budget, a project has to be on time, and a project has to meet a certain quality standard. Any experienced project manager will tell you that you usually can only pick 2 out of 3. So if your going to have your project within budget and meet the minimum quality standard, it will most likely be late (e.g. you didn't want to pay your engineers OT). If your project is going to be on time and up to the quality standard, more than likely you had to go over budget to do so (engineers with OT). If you are going to have your project on time and within budget, it's usually because you had to sacrifice quality, which looks like the case with the Pre.

As far as hardware is concerned, yeah, the Pre was not up to world-class standards. In his defense, he wasn't directly engineering the Pre all by his lonesome (if at all), nor did the hardware team at Palm had experience designing a slider. The Pixi was a physically solid device with a great keyboard (if only that phone had the Pre's guts)... that's where the hardware engineering team had experience and it showed.

One final note: What happened at HP is certainly not his fault.

I hope Jon had a nice Golden Parachute.

Good luck, Jon! And thanx for my Pre 3 and Touchpad!

Long life John!

Isn't he is the creator of webos?

Mixed feelings... marketing was horrendous, quality of hardware poor... I wanted a touchpad (i'll get one for nostalgia's sake)... but family got me an iPad...

Damn, Clie, Handspring, Palm... any gadget that I was a hardcore user of (except apple) is a goner...

I still even use my NX 70... if it weren't for my younger bro... I'd still have my Orange HandSpring Visor...

Finally one of the worst ex-ceo ever has resigned. He killed Palm and webOS. Shame on you forever!

What he did with Palm and webOS will be an example forever on WHAT NOT TO DO to manage a company.
From the video:
Jon Rubenstein likes to crush dreams and find new ways to burn a company to the ground each year.
So true!!!