I never would have thought that a study abroad experience could mean going from a little east of Los Angeles to a little south of San Francisco—venturing into the world’s start-up capital, Silicon Valley. My time in the center of technology began with an internship at Hewlett-Packard Company in their Sunnyvale office for the first few weeks, and then a transfer over to HP’s headquarters in Palo Alto for the remainder of the Silicon Valley Program. This move, however, was more than just switching offices. Earlier this month, my co-workers and I found out via breaking news that HP was splitting into two companies (HP Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise). For a company determined to restructure its business lines, sooner rather than later, it seemed inevitable to trim down and confront cutting costs—having over three HP office venues positioned just in the South Bay, at least one had to go. While the move for me was for the better, as I now have the chance to experience HP from its global hub, the transition signals that drastic shifts are forthcoming. But nevertheless, it’s exciting to be a part of a long-standing company and witness a transformation of this magnitude. From a corporate standpoint, a break-up of this stature untangles two Fortune 50 companies that can thrive in its own right and contest in its own direction—with one operating on the consumer level and the other for enterprises. HP’s split unsaddles the to-be disruptive enterprise group from their mainstay printer and personal systems business (stifled by low margins and slow growth), as the former looks to emerge by developing software, providing client solutions and competing for space in the cloud market.
Despite what the critics may say, this company division at this pivotal point in time is all about focus; HP is allowing for two companies to be independent, nimble and efficient—working symbiotically to grow the HP legacy and spur a turnaround in the company’s fortunes. Surely, technology has changed, and one group may seem antiquated in comparison to the other, but I believe that both firms will continue to advance. The move for HP certainly does not inhibit the hardware business from innovation (hint: 3D printers), but provides breathing room to derive new products and services organically, from a more committed and aligned business force. My internship at HP has allowed me to work closely with a very modern-thinking, device-oriented Consumer Mobility group that introduced HP into the markets for tablets and phablets. Yet, as the rate of technology companies entering the market does not look to be slowing down anytime soon, making competition ever so stiff, existing firms must realize their strengths and concentrate on delivering quality.
Start-ups in Silicon Valley have proven to us that it is not simply and solely size that matters, but that it is crucial to hone the ability to bring something new into the markets to keep being successful in technology today. Coming in to SVP, I had wondered what all the hype was about when it came to start-ups, but I soon took an interest in what was going on underneath it all. There really is more to Silicon Valley than the trend of start-up businesses, albeit making most of the headlines, and it takes some time being here to realize that—as there remain many titans of technology making sweeping efforts to stay top of the line.
Philip Suzukawa-Tseng ’15
Claremont McKenna College