In November 2009, he told Sramana Mitra he had "the most fantastic job in the world," but Prith Banerjee, head of Hewlett-Packard's research division HP Labs, is apparently departing the company. AllThingsD obtained an internal memo from HP CEO Meg Whitman that says Banerjee's last day is April 15th, meaning the former dean of Engineering at the University of Illinois probably won't get to see projects like the memristor and flexible displays commercialized before he leaves.
AllThingsD's anonymous source suggests that Meg Whitman is looking for HP Labs to focus on faster innovations that can be brought to market, which if true could possibly go against the philosophy that Banerjee espoused in 2009. He explained that HP had tens of thousands of engineers working on short term innovations:
...there are 30,000 very smart engineers who are working on the next-generation laptop. At HP Labs we only have 500 people. If those 500 people also start working on the short term, then the question becomes, "Why are they doing this at HP Labs? We have a much larger R&D enterprise."
Even so, Banerjee's tenure at HP already involved sacrifices in the name of profitability, at least in the long term: under CEO Mark Hurd, he carved down the number of projects HP would pursue to a number of "big bets," which were each expected to produce $1 billion for HP should they succeed. According to the memo, Banerjee will be replaced by HP senior fellow Chandrakant Patel for the time being. If you're curious about what else HP Labs has been doing, take a peek at our source links.