In reorganizing its Internet activities, Hewlett-Packard Co. is borrowing some management ideas from start-ups.
HP has formed a division to focus on the Internet and electronic commerce, with Joseph Beyers, 46, as general manager.
"My whole philosophy is to create a more independent software strategy to replicate an Internet start-up environment," he said in an interview. "We have had several software thrusts and software domains. We're linking them together for greater impact."
The 4,500-employee division is bringing together all of the Silicon Valley company's Internet-related software businesses, including the Verifone Inc. subsidiary.
In 1997, Hewlett-Packard acquired Verifone, the leading manufacturer of card-reading point of sale terminals, to take advantage of its Internet commerce innovations.
"We're pulling together e-commerce related activities, which were previously fragmented across three organizations, into one," Mr. Beyers said. "It's amazing how unconnected we were in our activities. Now we're increasing the communication links."
The five parts of the Internet Business Unit, based in Cupertino, Calif., focus on electronic services, Internet security, electronic commerce software, electronic business, and Internet financial transactions. Verifone falls under the last part.
Mr. Beyers previously headed Hewlett-Packard's Internet Software Business Unit, the company's first foray into software for the Internet. Before that, he directed the Internet Imaging Operation and Embedded Java Operation, both of which became part of the ISBU.
He has spent 22 years with HP in various roles. As general manager of strategic programs, he was responsible for key strategies and initiatives in the $30 billion computer organization. This included HP's Internet, networking, and software strategies.
He also initiated and managed several key external relationships, including those with Microsoft Corp., Netscape Communications Corp., and Cisco Systems.
To the Internet Business Unit, Verifone brings networking terminals and electronic payments software.
"After we acquired Verifone, we kept living too much at arm's length," Mr. Beyers said. Pulling the units together, he said, "is a great opportunity to accelerate and broaden Verifone's focus."
The electronic services division will focus on providing software infrastructures for on-line commerce. The Internet security division will include HP's Praesidium framework and Virtual Vault, a system that secures on-line data and transactions at 110 of the world's Internet banks.
"This represents a big potential market for HP and deserves the focus it is shining on it," said Lawrence Tabb, senior analyst at Tower Group in Newton, Mass.
Mr. Tabb said financial services has been a big market for HP. Though competition is "tough" from competitors such as International Business Machines Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., Dell Computer Corp., and Compaq Computer Corp., "some do not have as strong a foothold in financial services."
By sharpening its focus, he said, HP can gain more business in this area. In recent years, Hewlett-Packard's growth rates have fallen behind those of other high-technology companies in the market for Internet-based computer systems.
Edward Acly, director of middleware research at International Data Corp., said HP "had to do it to be competitive. E-business is a natural extension for any of these computer guys."
Mr. Acly said he expects banks to be "a natural for using this technology," but added the announcement will be less significant than how the strategy is executed.
Mr. Beyers said his role is "to drive strategy around the supply chain and customer interaction."
He hopes to replicate in vertical-market segments a business-to-business electronic commerce model HP built for the retailer Liz Claiborne, he said.
"We will strengthen HP's relationship with the banking industry," he said. "We're rapidly expanding our banking software products and capabilities to complement what we're doing with Verifone."