How Stupid Can You Be?

I would like to be more eloquent and insightful but … the mess at Hewlett-Packard just leaves me shaking my head. Masked identities, accessing phone records of reporters and Board members, private eyes, spying on their own Board members. What sort of hubris and cunning drives that sort of corporate behavior? So far, the only good guy here is Tom Perkins, established and respected Silicon Valley VC and long-time H-P Board member, who blew up and quit when he found out about the Spy vs. Spy routine at H-P. 

Five reporters at The Wall Street Journal gang up today for a page one story that digs into the role of “prominent Silicon Valley attorney” Larry Sonsini and the H-P non-executive Chairman Patricia Dunn.  What’s frightening here is  Sonsini’s apparent legal opinion that “pretexting,” the method used to obtain protected information, is common practice and within the law. I am sure that we will have a slew of regulatory, legislative and legal opinions about that.

This is the sort of juicy corporate drama that WSJ excels in and since they were victim of shenanigans, as were other news outlets, they will have very sharp knives for this one. See WSJ story – subscription required. See New York Times story Hewlett-Packard Spied On Writers In Leaksregistration required.

There will be firings, lawsuits, criminal investigations and perhaps trials, legislation introduced and debated, books, movies, TV PR blitzes and salivation at each new revelation. Reporters will be very aggressive pursuing this story. – Mark Rose, New York



  1. s says:

    Sonsini didn’t opine that the pretexting was legal. He now claims that he asked HP’s in-house attorneys if they had done anything illegal and he merely repeated their claim of innocence. With in-depth legal research like that no wonder he has been so successful as an attorney.

    What a bunch of hacks.

    Fortunately, this all ranks low on the “harm done” scale and high on the “entertaining stupidity” meter. Could anything be as entertaining.

  2. Mark Rose says:

    You’re right about Sonsini, according to WSJ. I have a feeling that this story will get uglier and more entertaining as it unfolds. I wonder who is going to play Carly Fiorina in the movie. Which reporter will make his/her name with the definitive book? Let’s see how the stock behaves – I suspect, as you say, that this will not appreciably harm the company but will provide us with juicy tales of duplicity, ineptitude and scheming for months to come. I can’t wait to hear Perkins’ side of the story. We’ll probably have to wait for the court docs.

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