Ray Ozzie Named to HP Board

Ray Ozzie

Ray Ozzie

Hewlett-Packard Co. on Monday named three new executive board members, including former Microsoft Corp. chief software architect Ray Ozzie, as part of ongoing efforts to turn around the troubled vendor.

Ray Ozzie is joined on the board by fellow newcomers James Skinner, the former CEO of McDonalds Corp., and current chairman of Walgreen Co. and former Liberty Media CEO Robert Bennett.

Ray Ozzie will serve on the technology and the finance and investment committees, while Robert Bennett joins the finance and investment and the audit committees, and James Skinner serves on the audit, HR and compensation and nominating and governance committees.

The appointments are effective immediately.

“Over the coming months, the board will continue to search for additional world-class directors, as well as a permanent non-executive chairman,” the company said in a statement.

The naming of Ray Ozzie and the others comes after HP chairman Ray Lane said in April he was stepping down from his role atop the board at the world’s No. 1 IT company. Lane rose to prominence at HP in the wake of the scandal surrounding former CEO Mark Hurd and was seen as connected to such disastrous initiatives as the hiring of subsequent chief executive Leo Apotheker and the $12 billion acquisition of U.K. software firm Autonomy.

Lane’s chairmanship was assumed on an interim basis by Ralph Whitworth, the activist investor who called CEO Meg Whitman “among the most gifted and skilled business leaders in the world today.”

Lane’s announcement was matched by word that two other board members would be departing — yet another distraction for the direction-challenged vendor already wrestling with financial woes, market downturns and executive upheaval.

John Hammergren and G. Kennedy Thompson, who scraped by in the vendor’s last board election with 45 percent voting against each, both left the HP board after its meeting in May.

Whitworth will continue to serve as interim chairman while HP looks to fill additional board positions and find a permanent non-executive chairman, company officials said.