Back in June, we heard from a couple of good sources that an executive exodus was about to take place at Palm, as everyone waited for the HP deal to go through. We can now confirm that the exodus did in fact take place, and we have some names to prove it.
We first reported earlier today that Peter Skillman, the Vice President of Design at Palm had left the company. But while he was very important to the company (he was the designer of the Palm Pre) he wasn’t technically an executive. Following the completion of the HP deal, Palm has taken down their executive page. But here’s who was on the Management Team:
- Jon Rubinstein, Chairman and CEO
- Michael Abbott, SVP, Application Software and Services
- Mike Bell, SVP, Product Development
- Jeff Devine, SVP, Global Operations
- Mary Doyle, General Counsel
- Doug Jeffries, CFO
- Katie Mitic, SVP, Product Marketing
- Way Ting, SVP, System Software
- Dave Whalen, SVP, Global Sales
- Jeff Zwerner, SVP, Brand Design
Of those, it has been reported previously that Abbott left to join Twitter and Bell left to join Intel. Abbott’s departure from Palm was actually revealed through some SEC filings in April. That same filings revealed that Palm had offered other executives huge retention packages, with large cash bonuses and restricted stock (both spread out over two years) to entice them to stay around. Those executives included Jeffries, Devine, Bell, Whalen, Zwerner, and Mitic.
Of those, Bell (obviously) turned it down, while Devine and Jeffries apparently accepted (as noted in the 8-K filing). Also apparently turning down the offers were Mitic and Zwerner, who both left Palm in June, we’ve confirmed.
Mitic was formerly a Yahoo exec and an Executive in Residence at both Elevation Partners (the firm that pumped all the money into Palm towards the end) and Kleiner Perkins. She had been with Palm since June 2009 and was responsible for my favorite quote at their developer event last Fall: ”We want to leave it all out there. You know, ‘The Full Monty‘.” (Interestingly enough, it appears that she has recently deleted her LinkedIn profile — perhaps to mask the move?)
Zwerner, meanwhile, was the executive who brought his expertise in brand design to “Palm’s global advertising, marketing communications, PR, events and web design.” He was one of the many ex-Apple employees (he actually worked there two different times) that Rubinstein brought over to Palm. From what we’re hearing, when he did leave in June, it was not on good terms.
Rubinstein obviously stayed with the company and is now an executive (of some sort) at HP. It’s not yet clear if Doyle, Ting, or Whalen have stuck around as well — you’ll note that only Whalen was on the list being offered the retention bonus, so it doesn’t look good. We have reached out to Palm to try and see about each of them. I suspect one or more has moved on, which means that in the last few months, at least half of the executive team of Palm is gone.
One name not on Palm’s executive page is Mitch Allen, the CTO. I have confirmed with the company that he remains and is currently managing webOS engineering for HP now. That’s good news seeing as it’s so vital to their future plans, and he was one of the primary architects of the software (along with Abbott).
Aside from the executives, here are the other important employees known to have left recently:
- Matias Duarte, who led webOS design work, left for Google to work on Android in May.
- Caitlin Spaan, Palm’s vice president of carrier marketing who had been with the company for 14 years, left in April.
- Rich Dellinger, the man behind webOS notifications went to Apple in June.
- Lynn Fox, the head of PR, also left in June.
You’ll forgive me if I left anyone out. It’s getting hard to keep track of all of the departures at this point. It certainly seems as if there are fewer management-level employees that stayed at Palm/HP than the number that left.
Luckily for HP, the exodus appears to have mostly ended a couple months ago. Palm simply forgot to tell everyone. Hopefully now they can focus on making solid devices centered around webOS going forward. Well, once that pesky CEO situation is resolved.