Our today's interlocutor - Rahul Sood - is a pretty legendary man from the PC industry. Mr. Sood founded VoodooPC, one of the first boutique PC brands in the world, back in 1991, years before many of today's companies that produce high-end hardware or PCs were established.
VoodooPC focused on creation of ultra high-end desktops for gaming or working, but eventually the company started to offer more affordable systems for multimedia to increase its footprint. The firm got acquired back in 2006 by Hewlett-Packard with the aim to leverage the DNA of high-quality Voodoo-branded products onto a wide range of PCs and peripherals.
Unfortunately, not everything went as planned, VoodooPC got dissolved in HP and Mr. Sood decided to leave the company to become a Microsoft employee. But, apparently, HP not only "managed" to absorb Voodoo without leaving a trace, but is also looking forward spinning off its personal systems group (PSG) as a whole. So, today we decided to talk to Rahul Sood to find out, what went wrong with VoodooPC within HP, what problems do PC makers face today and what should a PC company of the new era be like.
X-bit labs: Rahul, thank you very much for talking to us, I am sure our readers will appreciate your answering of our questions.
Rahul Sood: Thanks for the opportunity.
We Could Have Done So Much More...
X-bit labs: When HP bought VoodooPC almost five years ago, the latter had a very logical and lean product lineup where each model was aimed at particular use case/customer. At HP, it quickly got disbanded. Why, in your opinion, did this happen?
Rahul Sood: When a company gets acquired it’s absolutely critical that the larger entity maintains the culture and identity of the organization while thoughtfully blending the strategies and visions together. The number one reason strategic acquisitions fail is because there is a lack of patience and they forget about why they came together in the first place. There is nothing more important than patience when it comes to creating and fostering cultures of innovation.
To answer your question, the HP Voodoo strategy was actually quite sound. We were leveraging the Voodoo brand, design, and technology to create a premium product line for HP and Voodoo. We were planning to create beautiful affordable accessories under the Voodoo brand and deliver them around the world to bring awareness to our core product line.
Voodoo Omen (left) and HP BlackBird 002 with VoodooDNA (right)
We created Voodoo ENVY which ultimately became HP ENVY. We re-invented high performance desktops by launching our halo product, HP Blackbird with VoodooDNA, we also created the HP Firebird with Voodoo DNA platform which could have changed the desktop PC and DIY markets had we continued with our plans. We also created a prototype notebook, HP Firefly with VoodooDNA, which ultimately became part of the platform to which Razer used to develop their new Razer Blade notebook.
Voodoo Envy 13"
There were some good things to come out of the deal, no doubt, but we could have done so much more.
Had we been given more time I truly believe HP would have had a beautiful ecosystem of products that could stand up against Apple’s best offerings. If HP Voodoo was still alive and kicking you would have seen a different HP today.
HP Envy 13"
X-bit labs: Did I understand it correctly, HP sold a Voodoo team-developed design to certain third-parties?
Rahul Sood: Not quite, I wish though. We developed a number of bleeding edge notebooks; one of them was an incredible blend of high end mobile technology with beautiful material and industrial design. The goal was to deliver an unparalleled entertainment experience. We developed two of these platforms together with some amazing people from Intel. We started this project when Voodoo was just Voodoo, and we continued it when Voodoo joined HP. After we disbanded and HP dropped the projects, Razer stepped up and took over. Lucky them, if they play their cards right Razer could be a dark horse of the PC industry.