Meg Whitman tells employees that news of her departure should have come 'as no surprise'

Meg WhitmanMeg WhitmanAP

  • After announcing her decision to resign as Hewlett Packard Enterprise's CEO on February 1, Meg Whitman sent an email to company employees about her departure.
  • In the email, she gave her unequivocal support to Antonio Neri, the 22-year company veteran who has been tapped to succeed her.
  • She also said those who have seen her work with Neri over the past year will not be "surprised" by the announcement that he is to become the next CEO.

Meg Whitman's decision to step down as CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise may have seemed sudden to some, but she thinks employees shouldn't have been surprised.

In an email to HPE employees obtained by Business Insider, Whitman noted that Antonio Neri, HPE's president who will replace her as CEO on February 1, has worked with her closely and publicly lately.

"For those of you who have watched Antonio and I work together during this past year, I suspect today's announcement comes as no surprise," Whitman said in the email. "Many years ago, I said the next CEO of Hewlett Packard should come from inside our company. And when I said that, Antonio was exactly the kind of insider I had in mind."

Whitman did not tell employees why she decided to leave the CEO job or where she plans to go next. She will remain on HPE's board.

Her resignation comes just two months after Whitman promised she was "not going anywhere." That declaration followed her public admission that she had had discussions about becoming the next CEO of Uber and amid concerns that those discussions could be seen as a lack of commitment to HPE and jeopardize her future there.

Meg WhitmanHewlett-Packard Enterprise CEO Meg WhitmanAP

During HPE's quarterly earnings conference call on Tuesday, Wall Street analysts asked Whitman why she was leaving now after she had so recently said she was staying put. She declined to give much of an explanation.

"There hasn't been a change in sentiment," she said, adding "I think it is absolutely the right time for Antonio and a new generation of leaders to take the reins."

As for what she will do next, she told analysts she plans to be "a very active board member." Beyond that, she plans to take a break.

"After a 35-year nonstop career I am actually kind of [ready to] take a little downtime, but there's no chance I'm going to a competitor [to HPE]. No chance," she said. She added: "I love this company, and I wouldn't ever go to a competitor."

Our bet is she spends some time on various boards and that if she takes another CEO gig, it will be at a growing, mid-size startup, not another troubled giant.

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