Today we learnt that HTC’s Chief Product Officer, Kouji Kodera, has left HTC. While in isolation, this may seem insignificant, but combine that with reports of many other employees parting ways with HTC in the past few months and we may be seeing people jumping from the ship before it sinks. On the other hand, we may be seeing a cleansing of the soul that in my opinion has become dirty in the past couple of years.
What’s happening at HTC?
Mr. Kodera is responsible for HTC’s global product portfolio planning and management so it is a surprise that he has left now, just as they have released the phone which is meant to turn it all around for them. Is he leaving for bigger and better things or have HTC pushed him out the door? Others to have left are seemingly leaving what has been reported as a company in “utter freefall“, with some leaving parting shots at their former employees which makes me think that the departures are voluntary.
The high profile departures include Jason Gordon – HTC’s vice president of global communications, Rebecca Rowland – global retail marketing manager, John Starkweather – director of digital marketing, and Eric Lin – product strategy manager. Eric had this to say to his former colleagues:
To all my friends still at @HTC – just quit. leave now. it’s tough to do, but you’ll be so much happier, I swear.
— eric Lin (@ericlin) May 20, 2013
We’re also now seeing reports that HTC Asia CEO Lennard Hoornik has left the company, leaving regional CFO Chia-Lin Chang in charge until a more permanent replacement is found. Hoornik, who joined HTC from the ranks of Sony Ericsson, is said to have left HTC after a two-month period of absence. Did he jump, or was he pushed? HTC gave the following comments to tech blog Engadget:
HTC can confirm that Lennard Hoornik has left HTC to pursue other interests. We appreciate his contributions to our South Asia efforts over the past year and wish him all the best. HTC’s CFO, Chialin Chang will provide interim leadership in this strategic region while we work to find a permanent solution.
According to a source of Engadget’s, HTC’s Head of Global Digital Service Elizabeth Griffin will also be leaving HTC later this week to join Nintendo.
What’s that saying? When it rains it pours?
Here is where I speculate on why they have left. I believe that the co-founder and CEO Peter Chou is ruling with an iron fist. He is feeling the pressure from the tidal wave that is Samsung. He is making snap decisions on their products without consultation with others. How could HTC run out of stock of a flagship phone within a week or two of it being released (especially when it wasn’t selling that well)? Why would they still release it when they didn’t have stock? They felt the heavy breathing of the Samsung monster over their shoulder? I feel that people were sick of not being heard and have left.
Is this a bad thing? Assuming the HTC One is not going to be the massive success it was supposed to be to save the flailing company, and Chou steps down as CEO as he said he would. I believe it is a good thing.
It could be seen as a chance to clean out all the dead wood of the company and start afresh with new people with new ideas. This should begin at the top. I think it’s time for Peter Chou to step aside and bring someone else in to help right the ship. His staff are deserting him and hopefully he looks at the greater good and falls on his sword (figuratively speaking of course). HTC make great hardware (in my opinion and that of my colleagues at Ausdroid) but some of their decisions have been strange to say the least.
A good thorough spring clean could be very cathartic for them.
Are we now seeing the death of the once great company that is HTC? Or will it rise from the ashes like a phoenix to become a leader in Android/smart phones that it once was? Mark Twain once said “the report of my death was an exaggeration”.
Remember: HTC were once a great company, we shouldn’t give up on them just yet.