Changing of the Guard Scares off More of Palm’s Key Staff

by Matt Klassen on June 29, 2010

With the impending merger of HP and Palm becoming official on July 1st, we all knew that not everyone from Palm’s innovative and creative team would stick around. Since this whole mess began, among the many employees that have jumped ship, Palm has seen the departure of Michael Abbot, the senior vice president of software, and seen mobile design genius Matias Duarte bolt from the greener pastures of Google.

While both those key departures clearly hurt Palm, you get the sense that HP may not be Palm’s knight in shining armor when even the VP of public relations can’t put a good spin on things. In news released late last week, it was reported that Palm’s VP of PR Lynn Fox, one of the Palm’s most highly publicized steals from Apple, has decided to leave the company.

But are these recent departures a sign of once starry-eyed tech dreamers becoming disillusioned with the cold hard reality of business in the mobile market, or are these people being not-so-subtly shown the door by HP, a company now looking to clean house?

Although Fox has largely kept the reasonsbehind her departure to herself, one thing is clear, for her and those that left before, being controlled by the iron-fisted bureaucracy of HP is probably not something they had in mind. So that begs the question, who does Palm have left?

At the best of times, there were few names of Palm’s employees that even the most astute tech journalists and bloggers could have listed off the top of their heads, but now, it truly looks like all those names are gone. While I’m sure HP isn’t crying in its morning cereal over the loss of another key cog in Palm’s machinery, is there reason for concern behind this mass exodus?

Clearly none of these former employees have said anything negative about HP or Palm, but how could they? As anyone who’s ever left a company with the hopes of taking some severance with them knows, you basically sign your life away to do so. You may have gripes with how things were run, with the management, with the direction of the company, but if you want to get some money while you’re heading out the door, you have to keep your mouth shut.

But before we start thinking that HP is an ogre to work for, let’s take a realistic look at this most recent departure. Throughout this whole Palm ordeal over the past few months one thing has always been abundantly clear to me; Palm has had its head firmly stuck in the ground. The company consistently denied it was having problems when even my grandmother could tell that they were, and that, to me, is a sign of poor public relations. So will HP miss Lynn Fox, spin-doctor extraordinaire? I doubt it.  

So although we may not know the actual decisions that were made that led to the likes of Duarte, Abbot and now Fox leaving the company, let’s not be too quick to vilify HP, because the honest truth is, it was this team of innovative and creative thinkers that ran Palm into the ground to begin with.

Now only if HP would do something about Jon Rubinstein….

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