Meg Whitman to step down as chief executive of Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Meg Whitman will step down as chief executive of Hewlett Packard Enterprise six years after joining its corporate predecessor and implementing a turnaround that split the Silicon Valley corporate icon in two.

Meg Whitman  

Whitman, 61, is set to retired in February, the company said yesterday. The company's president Antonio Neri, 50 will succeed Whitman.

Whitman became CEO in 2011, nine months after she joined the company's board, after she failed to  become the governor of California. She had spent over $100 million of her own money on her Republican campaign, but lost to Jerry Brown, a Democrat.

After becoming CEO of the ageing, troubled company and delivering mixed results, she initiated a series of cost-cutting moves and finally decided to break up the company.

She went on to head Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the business software and hardware operations of the parent company, while the other  half of the company, comprising the printer and personal computer business went to HP Inc.

Ms Whitman had joined eBay in 1998, then a fledgling startup and became a billionaire steering the company through the early growth phase of the internet.

''At HP, she was handed a tough hand in a legacy business - the opposite of eBay,'' said A M Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein Research. ''She was a complete realist about the business, and generally did a good job,'' The New York Times reported.

"We have a much smaller, much nimbler, much more focused company," Whitman said during the company's earnings call yesterday when Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said the move felt abrupt. "I think it is absolutely the right time for Antonio and a new generation of leaders to take the reins."

After stepping down from the board of HP Inc in July, she joined the board of Dropbox in September. In the call yesterday she said that she is "going to take a little downtime, but there's no chance I'm going to a competitor.