Brilliant, or Blunder? A Rashomon Roundtable on Carly Fiorina’s Compaq Acquisition

The evolving opinions about a candidate’s most important business decision.
Photographer: Bloomberg

Trying to solidify Hewlett-Packard's standing in the first rank of computer makers, then CEO Carly Fiorina in 2001 consummated a $24 billion deal to buy Compaq, a venerable company by tech standards. The deal was derided by many on various grounds: the precipitous decline of HP’s stock price, the layoffs that followed in its wake, and the sense that Compaq would distract the company from its core missions. Fiorina was forced out by the board by 2005. But in the years since, views of the deal have become more complicated as the following chronological compendium shows:

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