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HPE’s Meg Whitman on Uber CEO gig: ‘It wasn’t the right thing’

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During an HPE earnings call, CEO Meg Whitman offered her first extensive remarks on that whole Uber CEO job search thing, promising now that “I actually am not going anywhere.”

Whitman made the remarks after HPE reported earnings that were not godawful. After a presentation by executives, Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein Research finally asked her the question we were all dying for somebody to ask:

“Meg, I was wondering if you could maybe clear the air on your commitment to Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. There is obviously a lot of press, speculation about you are potentially accepting a role at Uber as CEO you had made statements saying that you are remaining at HPE. I was wondering if you could just clear the air on the apparent reporting discrepancies in your statements and where do you stand in terms of your commitment to HPE? Thank you.”

To recap: After Uber tossed co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick out the window, Whitman was reportedly a candidate. Then, following a mess of leaks from the board, Whitman very publicly took herself out of the running with a mini-tweetstorm.

End of story….not!

During the final weekend, Whitman re-emerged as the front runner, according to various reports. But apparently some of her demands, including putting Kalanick in a corner, soured some board members on her. Nobody puts Travis in a corner. And so the board picked that Expedia dude that you never heard of until he was named Uber CEO. Dara something, I think.

So, back to Whitman and her on-again, off-again candidacy. Whitman is now in year six of her five-year turnaround plan for HPE, which included her move to split the original Hewlett-Packard in twain. Perhaps it might not be surprising that the former eBay CEO is getting a bit bored with it all and her eye has started to wander.

Whitman says no, and that this time she really means it!

Here are her full remarks from a transcript:

“Yes, sure. There has been some press. So, listen, I thought, I was called in very late in the Uber search and I thought it was a very interesting business model to me. It’s actually quite similar to Ebay in many ways. It’s very disruptive, that relies on a community of drivers just like Ebay relies on a community of sellers and the growth prospects reminded me of Ebay in its early days and as you know, I am also an investor in Uber and – but, in the end that wasn’t the right thing.

And but I would say, that has really nothing to do with HPE which is quite special in its own right and we have a very focused strategy and a path forward to build a very big business on what I think is a quite compelling strategy, hybrid IT, edge computing, IOT and much more. And we also have a remarkable customer base and partner base.

So, the other thing is I have dedicated the last six years of my life to this company and there is more work to do and I am here to help make this company successful and I am excited about the new strategy. So, lots more work to do and I actually am not going anywhere.”

Apparently, the feeling was mutual on Uber’s part. And so, Whitman will remain at HPE forever and forever. Unless she doesn’t.

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