The hits just keep on coming for HP. Hot on the heels of the massive story of HP CEO Mark Hurd’s resignation amid scandal, another high-level person has left the company. Peter Skillman, the Vice President of Design at Palm (which HP officially purchased in July) has left the company, we’ve confirmed.
It’s not clear where Skillman is going next, but he had been with Palm for 11 years. And that’s a big blow for HP as Skillman takes with him nearly 20 years of product design experience. At Palm, he was the man in charge of the design of the ill-fated but loved Pre.
On the eve of the Pre’s launch in 2009, Forbes ran a nice profile of Skillman and his team responsible for the device. “We wanted to build something really soft and precious yet robust that would be very different from the hard, pragmatic products in the market,” he said of the Pre at the time. While the Pre never became the success that Palm had hoped, it’s hard to knock its design (well, aside from the cramped physical keyboard), or its webOS operating system (which HP is focusing on going forward).
The Forbes piece also singled out three other men in charge of the Pre: Mike Bell, Matias Duarte, and Michael Abbott. Abbott (who headed up webOS) left Palm to join Twitter in April. In May, Duarte (who headed up webOS design work) left for Google to work on Android. And last month, Bell (who was VP of Product Development) left to join Intel. Yes, all four men profiled in that piece are now gone.
Of course, one of the few executives who hasn’t left Palm/HP at this point is former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein. While there were rumors of his departure months ago as well, it would seem that Rubinstein was an important part of the HP deal — a place where he started his career. And while it seems pretty unlikely that he’ll be tapped to be the next HP CEO, his name is certainly out there.
At Palm, Rubinstein personally built the team consisting of the four aforementioned men to build the Pre. “It’s like the chains have been cut off, and we can do all these amazing things,” Skillman told Forbes about his Pre team last year.
They certainly can, but not at Palm or HP.