Meg Whitman is stepping down as chief executive of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (HPE), just weeks after pledging her long-term future to the company. Shares of HPE were down more than 8% on volume more than twice the daily average, at 12:07 p.m. in New York today.
Whitman, who during her six-year tenure oversaw one of the biggest corporate breakups in history, will be succeeded on Feb. 1 by Antonio Neri, president of HPE, the company said in a statement. Whitman, one of Silicon Valley’s most experienced chief executives, gave no specific reason for her departure and will remain on HPE’s board.
News that Whitman is stepping down from her day-to-day running of the company wasn’t well received by investors. Shares in HPE fell more than 6 percent in pre-market trading.
"Today, Hewlett Packard moves forward as four industry-leading companies that are each well positioned to win in their respective markets," Whitman said in a statement. "Now is the right time for Antonio and a new generation of leaders to take the reins of HPE. I have tremendous confidence that they will continue to build a great company that will thrive well into the future."
Whitman’s successor, Neri, has been with the company for nearly a quarter of a century. According to Reuters, he is a trained computer engineer and has worked in every one of HPE’s businesses.
Neri faces the tough task of convincing investors that he can do as good a job as his predecessor. Whitman, who previously headed eBay Inc. (EBAY), won plenty of plaudits during her six years at the helm of HPE and has been heralded by many for helping to save the company from irrelevance. (See also: Hewlett Packard (HPE) Q3 Earnings & Revenues Top, Shares Up.)
She is best known for separating Hewlett-Packard into two companies, aggressively shedding assets and cutting thousands of jobs in order to boost HPE’s ability to keep up with cloud-savvy competitors. (See also: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Planning 5,000 Job Cuts: Report.)
Whitman’s impressive resume recently led her to be linked to the then-vacant CEO role at Uber. When asked by analysts if she was interested in taking on the top job at the ride-hailing service, she responded in the negative, adding that she was at HPE for the long haul.
"I've dedicated the last six years of my life to this company, and there is more work to do," she said during an earnings call in September, according to CNBC. "And I'm here to make this company successful, and I'm excited about the new strategy. So lots more work to do, and I actually am not going anywhere."