HP promotes Americas channel chief DiFranco


HP Americas PSG chief (and former Americas channel chief) Stephen DiFranco

Hewlett-Packard’s ongoing executive shuffle continued Monday with a bunch of announcements that result in a new webOS chief and a new head of the company’s Personal Systems Group (PSG) in the Americas.

In the biggest change for the company’s channel community, former Americas channel chief Stephen DiFranco has been promoted to senior vice president and general manager for PSG in the Americas, and the company will “begin an active search to identify a new leader” for SPO. In the meantime, the company says DiFranco will “continue to oversee SPO.”

DiFranco gets the promotion as former Americas PSG chief Stephen DeWitt also receives a promotion, taking over as chief of the company’s webOS business unit for former Palm chief Jon Rubinstein, who himself received a promotion to the new role of senior vice president of product innovation for PSG.

While it’s always challenging to see an executive revolving door in the channel chief position – DiFranco has only been HP’s channel chief for around 18 months – the promotions could mean good things for HP’s partners and their connections to executive leaderships.

With DiFranco heading up PSG and keeping an eye on SPO, the channel has a familiar face driving one of the most important HP channel businesses in the Americas. In a recent sit-down interview with ChannelBuzz.ca during a visit to Toronto – perhaps foreshadowing Monday’s announcement? – DiFranco frequently mentioned the breadth and depth of HP’s channel leadership in the Americas, including the roles of Americas sales chief Dave Twohy, enterprise business partner sales chief Frank Rauch and IDC-analyst-turned-channel-strategy-guru Janet Waxman among others.

DeWitt himself is a familiar face to HP partners, including regular appearances at the company’s Americas Partner Conference event and even a keynote at last fall’s VTN Invitational in San Francisco. DeWitt has good connections and is generally well-liked in the channel community, and is generally considered an executive who “gets” the channel, a quality that may become all the more crucial as HP looks to its channel as a differentiator and driving force for the TouchPad and other webOS devices.

DiFranco had served as Americas channel chief since early 2010, when he joined HP from Lenovo, and appeared to be making strides towards building SPO towards his vision. His most recent mission centered on getting partners to consider HP’s webOS platform and TouchPad tablets as more than just consumer devices, but rather driving partners towards a broad mobility practice approach to the tablets market.

In a statement announcing the moves, worldwide PSG chief Todd Bradley praised DiFranco for “his experience driving profitable growth with our channel partners” and said that experience “will be essential to leading PSG’s business” Americas-wide.

DeWitt, meanwhile, had headed up PSG in the Americas since 2008, and earned praise in a company statement for “dramatically [improving] PSG’s profitability and share position in the America’s region” during his tenure. Before HP, DeWitt was CEO at Azul Systems, and his background includes a Canadian connection as general manager of Symantec Canada.