HP Adds Software Visionary Ray Ozzie, Former Liberty Media CEO Robert Bennett, And Walgreens Chairman To Board

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After losing several board members in April, HP announced today that it is adding three new members to its board: Robert R. “Dob” Bennett, former president and chief executive officer of Liberty Media Corporation; Raymond E. Ozzie, former chief software architect of Microsoft and founder of new startup Talko; and James A. Skinner, former vice chairman and CEO of McDonald’s Corp. and current chairman of Walgreen Co.

HP says these additions will increase the number of HP directors from nine to 12. And HP is continuing the search for a permanent non-executive chairman. Ralph V. Whitworth will continue to serve as chairman of the board on an interim basis, following Ray Lane’s departure in April.

“In April, we made a pledge to recruit the very best, most talented leaders to HP’s already outstanding board,” said Whitworth in a release. “Dob, Ray and Jim bring tremendous capital allocation, technological, operational and leadership expertise and experience to the table. I’m confident they will make enormous contributions as we support Meg and her team in rebuilding HP by better serving our customers, strengthening our partnerships and building value for our shareholders. It’s an enormously satisfying time to be part of HP, and today’s announcement adds to our ability to deliver on our promises.”

Ozzie was chief software architect at Microsoft in June 2006 and was Microsoft’s chief technical officer from April 2005 to June 2006. He took up that role when Microsoft acquired Groove Networks, a collaboration software firm Ozzie formed in 1997. Ozzie originally gained fame for Lotus Notes, the company he sold to IBM. Ozzie left Microsoft in 2010 in part due to a conflict with Steve Sinofsky, the Microsoft executive who was recently let go as the president of the Windows division.

In addition to serving as the CEO of Liberty Media, Bennett also served as president of Discovery Holding Company from March 2005 until September 2008, when it was merged with Discovery Communications, creating a new public company. Skinner has served as a member of the Walgreen Co. board of directors since 2005, and previously was the CEO of McDonald’s, as mentioned above.

“As we move forward with our turnaround, it’s a huge benefit to be able to get advice from a board made up of such experienced business and technology leaders,” said HP CEO Meg Whitman in a release. “For their part, Dob, Ray and Jim have just about seen it all during their careers. I’m very grateful for their support, as well as the ongoing support from all of the directors.”

With their addition to the board, Bennett will become a member of the Finance and Investment Committee and the Audit Committees, Ozzie will join the Technology Committee and the Finance and Investment Committee, and Skinner will join the Audit, HR and Compensation, and Nominating and Governance Committees.

These additions come at a time when Whitman is hoping to be able to reinvigorate and turn around the company. Ozzie certainly brings some of the technology chops and expertise to the board, and Bennett and Skinner both have experience in how to operate and advise public companies and add their own networks to the company.

Ozzie in particular will be key to Whitman’s five-year plan to go after services and be mindful of the consumer when it comes to software and hardware developments.