Family Matters

I'm not smart enough to know the real skinny at Hewlett-Packard and why Carly Fiorina (search) suddenly finds herself out of a job. But I suspect taking on the family didn't help.

When Fiorina pushed through her merger with Compaq years back, she also took on the heirs of Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard, who wanted nothing to do with Compaq.

She won the day, but I suspect, only the day. Because some institutions are entrenched — especially family inspired ones, like HP.

Never mind that the company has grown considerably from those two guys in a garage. It's still the company that was started by those two guys in a garage. And the sons of those two guys in a garage didn't like the new tenant of that garage.

They fought with her. Did their best to stop her. And, even when it appeared to the world they had been beaten by her, they never accepted her.

On "The Sopranos," no one messes with Tony, or Tony's family. That's the way it is in family companies. Even when the family isn't quite what it was.

Are you listening, Michael Eisner? Roy Disney (search), Walt's nephew, still doesn't flip over you. He wants to replace you. He has for years and will for years, until you go. No matter what you do.

I don't know where things went wrong between you guys. But know that in his eyes, you're a marked man. Ignore him at your own peril.

Don't ask me. Just ask Carly.

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