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Ex-HP board member enjoys press coverage

A private e-mail obtained by the New York Times suggests former Hewlett Packard board member Tom Perkins (left) and his lawyer are apparently enjoying news stories that skewer HP Chairwoman Patricia Dunn (right).

Perkins, 74, resigned from HP’s board amid a controversy over Dunn’s investigation into leaks about discussions at private board meetings. He has since gone on to harshly criticize her for hiring private investigators who illegally obtained the phone records of HP board members and nine journalists who cover the Palo Alto-based company.

According to this morning’s Times, Perkins’s lawyer, Viet D. Dinh, sent a message Sunday with the subject line “This is funny” to Perkins and George A. Keyworth II (right), the director at the center of the board controversy after being identified as a source of news leaks.

The e-mail passed along a humorous column from the Houston Chronicle which portrayed the computer company as falling apart because of Dunn’s actions. It also referred to the cover story of this week’s Newsweek, which skewered Dunn.

“Kaplan’s piece was perfect,” the e-mail said, referring to David A. Kaplan, the author of the Newsweek article. “Tom, loved the helicopter story — perfect color,” it added, referring to an anecdote about a prank Perkins had played on Dunn at a dinner party with a remote-controlled miniature helicopter.

Perkins forwarded his lawyer’s e-mail to two dozen people. Among them were publisher Rupert Murdoch, HarperColllins publisher Judith Regan, two of Perkins’ partners in the venture capital firm he built, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, and Kaplan, the Newsweek reporter.

One of the 12 recipients forwarded the message again to the New York Times, apparently in error, though Perkins’ spokesman didn’t dispute the message’s authenticity.

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