HP-Compaq - A Failed Merger?

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR202
Case Length : 20 Pages
Pages Period : 1999-2005
Organization : HP, Compaq
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : US
Industry : IT - Hardware

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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A Mega-Merger Contd...

Commenting on the dilemma faced by HP, George Day (Day), Professor of Marketing at Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, said, "HP is trying to be cost competitive with Dell and be the same kind of integrated-solutions provider that IBM has become. If that doesn't work - if it's clear IBM has too big a lead - then HP, which has this hugely profitable printer business, has to think about breaking up."4

Background Note


Stanford engineers Bill Hewlett and David Packard started HP in California in 1938 as an electronic instruments company. Its first product was a resistance-capacity audio oscillator, an electronic instrument used to test sound equipment. During the 1940s, HP's products rapidly gained acceptance among engineers and scientists. HP's growth was aided by heavy purchases made by the US government during the Second World War. During the 1950s, HP developed strong technological capabilities in the rapidly evolving electronics business. HP came out with its first public issue in 1957. HP entered the medical field in 1961 by purchasing Sanborn Company.

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In 1963, HP entered into a joint venture agreement with Yokogawa Electric Works of Japan to form Yokogawa-Hewlett-Packard. In 1966, the company established HP Laboratories, to conduct research activities relating to new technologies and products. During the same year, HP designed its first computer for controlling some of its test-and-measurement instruments.

During the 1970s, HP continued its tradition of innovation. In 1974, HP launched its first minicomputer that was based on 4K dynamic random access semiconductors (DRAMs) instead of magnetic cores. In 1977, John Young was named HP president, marking a transition from the era of the founders to a new generation of professional managers. During the 1980s, HP emerged as a major player in the computer industry, offering a full range of computers from desktop machines to powerful minicomputers. This decade also saw the development of successful products like the Inkjet and LaserJet printers. HP introduced its first PC in 1981, followed by an electronic mail system in 1982...

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4] "The HP Compaq Merger Two Years Out: Still Waiting for the Upside," www.knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu, October 20, 2004.


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