So Carly Fiorina is no longer the most powerful woman in business, or at least, the most powerful employed woman in business. Hewlett-Packard let her go today after months of speculation that there would be a shakeup. Quoted in the Merc, "While I regret the board and I have differences about how to execute HP's strategy, I respect their decision...HP is a great company and I wish all the people of HP much success in the future." She also added "But they better not set foot on the island I'm gonna buy." Okay, she didn't say that.

According to HP's press release, Robert P. Wayman will be the acting CEO and Patricia C. Dunn will take over chairmanship of the board, though in a non-executive role. Institutional investors on Wall Street have suggested that the company would be better off if it spun-off it's profitable printer division, but no noises from Palo Alto have been made to suggest that it will happen. While no specific reason besides "differences with the board" has been announced, we're going to have to think that that terrible HP iPod idea can't have helped. Fiorina also presided over the controversial merger with Compaq computers which pitted her against founder Bill Hewlett's son Walter, who was the most vocal critic of the deal and publicly voiced the concerns shared by many disgruntled employees and investors.

Dan Gillmor, who had the journalistic equivalent of an amputee's "ghost itch" when he found out, "[C]an't resist noting that, once again, corporate America's movers and shakers are rewarding failure, this time to the tune of a $21 million 'severance package.' It's how things work for CEOs: Succeed and you get millions. Fail and you get millions." Hey, we met that guy tonight, about four hours after his post went up! We're sure the Mercury News will have all sorts of coverage and analysis, but none from him. For that, you'll have to stay right here in the blogosphere.

AP photo by Joe Cavaretta, via SFGate.