As HP debates the fate of its dying webOS, the mobile operating system HP used in its failed tablet TouchPad, it has the perfect man defending the unpopular system: A tech savvy guy who has practiced self-deprecating humor for years. As part of a funny business card series, The Next Web's Matthew Panzarino unearthed John Kneeland's fresh cards, pictured above. As you can see, Kneeland works in HP's webOS Global Business Unit. And, he describes himself as "the last man standing." Because webOS is sinking. Given Kneeland's extensive background in unpopular things and silly glee clubs (or are those the same?), he's just the spirit HP needs during this turbulent time.
HP bought webOS from Palm in April 2010 and used it for its Touchpads and two of its phones. But there have been some problems with the operating system and sales have been bleak for all three devices. All this happened amid financially rocky times and a CEO shift for HP. As the company restructures, it might get rid of the operating system altogether.
But Kneeland is used to being the defender of unpopular things. That's right: He was in a glee club while studying at The University of Pennsylvania, we discovered through his Facebook. But Kneeland wasn't in just any a capella group, he was in one that tried to have a sense of humor: Penn Six, which is an a capella group that makes fun of the whole genre. Members are known to dress up in funny outfits and make spoof YouTube videos. Here's a taste of what they offer, from their site. There's more where that came from and live performances on their YouTube page.
As you can see, Kneeland's had practice using humor to get through a painful situation. He also deploys that same wit on his Facebook page, by the way, describing his work with HP's Asia-Pacific market entry as "'haha j/k you guys!' - HP." But Kneeland's not all laughs, as as his LinkedIn profile shows. He's worked with Apple, abroad and at failed and successful start-ups.
WebOS needs this kind of mascot right now. It's not looking good for the division. Earlier this year, HP had announced it would kill webOS. Then it took it back. Apparently the board is meeting this morning to decide the ultimate fate of the thing -- CEO Meg Whitman promised a decision in two weeks, a week and a half ago. But the touchpad, which housed the software wasn't too popular until HP tricked people into using it. And the whole thing has cost them $1.6 billion. But while HP agonizes over its product, Kneeland is there to keep spirits up the best way he knows how: Self-deprecation.
Update 1:45 p.m.: HP has made a final decision on webOS and it's kind of sort of giving it up, opening it up to the opensource community. However, HP will remain active in the "development and support" of the project, the company wrote in a note. We don't know what that means exactly for our funny last man standing. The company might not lay anyone off right this moment, note AllThingsD's Arik Hesseldahl and Ina Fried. But there's certainly potential for down-sizing.