The departure of Alon Bar-Shany from HP is one of the maybe most widely spread and commented news on LinkedIn, Trade-media, and now also here on NEWS, in the past week. I have only met Alon Bar-Shany one time in an interview I did with him in 2018. So to say I know him is by all means not the case. Obviously, people who have worked with Bar-Shany know him and can comment on his human values, his management skills, and all the other things that define him. When I met him, I didn't know him at all, and the thing that strikes you the first time you see him is his casual appearance, and soon when talking to him, you understand that he is a professional to the fingertips.
Bar-Shany reminds me a bit of my time from Roland. Mr. Kakahashi, who founded Roland in the '70s, was kind of a guru to the Roland community. When I joined Roland as a marketing manager, I didn't immediately understand the almost, too much, admiration of Mr. Kakahashi. He was, by all means, a great inventor of amazing musical instruments. He has, by all means, influenced the music industry more than most - and then I realized why Roland CEO's was so thankful to Mr. Kakahashi. He has, and that is the comparison to Bar-Shany, made millionaires. The passion for technology, the passion for being on the winning team, and the hard work to make the dream come through have made printers, distributors, partners, and a lot of people very rich. I am confident this is part of the admiration of HP Indigo and Alon Bar-Shany.
The Indigo story is amazing. It's the story of the Ugly Duckling where the Indigo today is the beautiful swan winning awards, recognition, and slowly but surely replacing technologies that ten years ago would have been unimaginable. Bar-Shany is the representation of this story. The story gets better when the narrative turns around his long grey hair, his down-to-earth appearance, style, the guitar playing GM, and now standing-up-against the evil management wanting to downsize the Indigo division and turn it into a corporate!
Regardless of rumors, and regardless of the motivations from either side, Bar-Shany has delivered more than most GM/CEOs, and, of course, that will leave HP, employees, and some customers in a short-time vacuum. But HP Indigo is stronger than ever, and we should maybe speculate less about the speculations and more into why Enrique Lores is looking into streamlining the HP operation?
If you look at the recent Q2 financial announcement, you can see that even the might HP is under pressure. It can be COVID-19. It can be changes in the market. It can be the competition. Regardless of why HP needs to be stronger financially to obtain at least two objectives, firstly, HP must continue to innovate, which requires money. Secondly, and I believe this is maybe more important, the hostile take-over attempt of HP has been a very real wake-up call for HP. I don't think they will ever be in that situation again; therefore, they will have to be stronger.
Nobody really knows the stress that HP must have experienced from the Xerox side. We have tried to get an interview with Enrique Lores about the personal aspects of this - with no luck, unfortunately. Imagine the pressure to stand-up against people like Carl Icahn and hungry investors? The promises were given to the investors to keep them on HP's side, like the buy-back programs, streamlining HP to become more profitable - well, I believe this is the major reason for HP's top-management decisions.
Is Alon Bar-Shany a victim? I don't think he sees himself as such. He has been with HP Indigo on a ride like no one else. Regardless of whether he chooses to take early retirement, create a new business, take a position in another company, his CV is so great that regardless I am sure he will be a success.