Meg Whitman is stepping down as chief executive of Hewlett Packard Enterprise six years after joining its corporate predecessor and leading a turnaround effort that split the Silicon Valley corporate icon in two.
Ms. Whitman, 61, will retire in February, the company said on Tuesday. She will be succeeded by Antonio Neri, 50, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s president.
Ms. Whitman took the helm at Hewlett-Packard in 2011, nine months after joining the company’s board, following her failed bid in 2010 to become the governor of California. She had spent more than $100 million of her own money on her Republican campaign, losing to Jerry Brown, a Democrat.
At Hewlett-Packard, Ms. Whitman inherited an aging, troubled company and delivered mixed results. She oversaw rounds of cost-cutting and then decided to break up the company. Ms. Whitman went with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which took the business software and hardware operations of the parent company. The other half of the company, HP Inc., houses the printer and personal computer business.
The job at Hewlett-Packard presented a very different challenge from her first stint in the tech world. In 1998, she joined a fledgling start-up, eBay, steering it as it rode the early growth of the internet and making Ms. Whitman a billionaire.
“At HP, she was handed a tough hand in a legacy business — the opposite of eBay,” said A. M. Sacconaghi, an analyst Bernstein Research. “She was a complete realist about the business, and generally did a good job.”
Ms. Whitman is one of the nation’s most prominent female executives. Before joining eBay, she already had an impressive resume — a Harvard M.B.A. with management jobs at some of the nation’s top companies, including Procter & Gamble, Bain & Company, Walt Disney and Hasbro.
Ms. Whitman was one of the three finalists to succeed Travis Kalanick as chief executive at Uber this year after he left the company, which he co-founded, over concerns that his leadership had helped it become a toxic workplace.
At Hewlett-Packard, Ms. Whitman tried to revive growth, but it was an uphill struggle, so she split the company in 2014. She cut costs at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which sells computer servers and data storage, networking, software and technology services to corporate customers, and pursued partnerships and deals to compete with larger rivals like IBM, Oracle, Cisco and Dell. The payroll shrank to about 60,000 employees from about 210,000.
In a $13.5 billion transaction completed this year, for example, Hewlett Packard Enterprise combined its services business with Computer Sciences Corporation to create a separate company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, called DXC Technology.
The Hewlett Packard Enterprise that has emerged, Ms. Whitman said this year, will be a streamlined company with “a crystal-clear mission” to help its business customers achieve the payoff from new technologies, including cloud computing, data analytics and the internet of things.
The company has also sought to strengthen its remaining businesses with a handful of acquisitions, including the $1.1 billion purchase this year of Nimble Storage, a start-up and a leader in the fast-growing market for so-called flash storage.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s share price is about where it was when it became a stand-alone company. But including share buybacks and dividend payments totaling nearly $18 billion, the total shareholder return is 89 percent, the company said.
In after-hours trading on Tuesday, Hewlett Packard Enterprise shares fell nearly 7 percent.
In a brief interview on Tuesday, Ms. Whitman said it had been a “privilege” to lead Hewlett-Packard through the challenges of recent years. The two companies that emerged, she said, are leaner, more innovative and healthy competitors in the modern technology industry. “I’m really proud of that,” Ms. Whitman said.
Her plans, she said, are not yet set. Ms. Whitman said she would take time off and go skiing, and she is the incoming chairwoman of Teach for America. Other than that, Ms. Whitman said, “I don’t know.”
She added: “I’ve been working straight for 35 years. I’m going to enjoy some downtime.”