Microsoft, McDonald's leaders join Hewlett-Packard board

The company is shoring up the panel after a shake-up in April when Ray Lane stepped down as chairman.

BLOOMBERG NEWSJuly 16, 2013 

SAN FRANCISCO - Hewlett-Packard Co. added three directors, including former Microsoft Corp. software head Ray Ozzie, as Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman tries to bolster sales with new technology and services amid a global PC slump.

HP is one of the Treasure Valley's largest employers, with a campus at 11311 Chinden Boulevard in Boise that employs an estimated 3,700 people, about half of whom work in the Imaging and Printing Group.

Ozzie will be joined on the board by Jim Skinner, the former CEO of McDonald's Corp. and current chairman of Walgreen Co., and Dob Bennett, the ex-CEO of Liberty Media Corp., the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company said Monday. The additions expand the board from nine members to 12.

Ray Lane stepped down as chairman in April after an $8.8 billion writedown of a company acquired on his watch. With the third board overhaul since 2011, Whitman is gaining expertise in software and marketing as she expands in mobile computing to reach users who are abandoning PCs for smartphones and tablets.

"It doesn't hurt to have a software guru on the board," said Brian White, an analyst at Topeka Capital Markets. "Software is becoming more important. That's one area that HP really needs to beef up."

Ozzie has a long and distinguished history in the computer industry, though his tenure at Microsoft was relatively brief. He is best known as the creator of the Lotus Notes, a pioneering email system that was acquired by IBM Corp. He later founded software maker Groove Networks, which Microsoft acquired in 2005.

When Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates announced in 2006 that he would step down from his day-to-day role, Ozzie was one of two executives tapped to chart the course of the world's largest software maker. Ozzie left Microsoft in 2010 and has been running Talko Inc., a cloud computing company he founded.

The company will continue seeking additional directors and a nonexecutive chairman in the coming months, Ralph Whitworth, interim chairman, said in a blog post.

Whitworth became temporary head of the board in the April shake-up that also led to Lane's exit and the departures of directors G. Kennedy Thompson and John Hammergren. Lane gave up his chairmanship after investors re-elected him in a narrow majority of votes, issuing a rebuke of his oversight of the botched acquisition of software maker Autonomy Corp.

Skinner was CEO of McDonald's from 2004 to 2012, and oversaw a sharp rise in the company's stock. He led the world's largest restaurant chain through the U.S. economic recession by scaling back new store openings and expanding the menu to include premium coffee drinks to lure higher-income consumers while introducing healthier options such as oatmeal .

Bennett was CEO of Liberty Media from 1997 to 2005, and previously served as finance chief at the company, which invests in a variety of entertainment and sports ventures. He also led Liberty Media's initial public offering in 2001.

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