Tom Perkins was a member of the Hewlett-Packard board that fired CEO Carly Fiorina in 2005, but he now calls that move a "mistake" and defended her actions in a full-page ad in The New York Times on Thursday.
paid for by CARLY for America, the super PAC supporting Fiorina's presidential candidacy, is addressed as a response to New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin's claim that Fiorina's business record was "not so sterling."
Perkins cites Fiorina's leadership of HP through years that were tough for tech companies, and said her problems with the board were not because of her own incompetence, but because board members were looking out for their own interests and put family and friends in positions of leadership.
"Critics often claim [she] was fired at HP because she was unsuccessful. As a member of the board, I can tell you this is not true," Perkins wrote. "Carly worked with the hand she was dealt as best as one could. … Carly had the strength of character and courage of conviction to stand up to it and ultimately she lost her job because of it."
Fiorina, appearing Thursday on Fox News Channel's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,"
said that Perkins expressed those thoughts to her privately more than five years ago, adding, "I'm very gratified that he is saying it publicly now."
Fiorina said she will run on her track record at Hewlett-Packard "all day long," pointing out she has never hidden the fact that she was fired in a "boardroom brawl."
"I've never been ashamed of that because I know that when you lead, when you challenge the status quo, you sometimes make enemies," she said.
Perkins said that "lesser leader" would have accepted offers of transition plans and graceful resignations, but "Carly would have none of that. Carly demanded to be fired"
Perkins said he voted to fire her to restore peace to the board, but said, "That was a mistake."
The Los Angeles Times' Michael Hiltzik
is skeptical, writing that Fiorina has written that Perkins vacillates "between expressing pride about helping to engineer her ouster and denying having played a leading role."
In a note soon after her ouster, Perkins reportedly sent Fiorina a note saying that if she ever ran for office, "I would be honored if you would let me participate on the fund-raising side."
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