HP Discover, Las Vegas – Actor Kevin Bacon brought his famed six degrees of separation down to zero at HP Discover yesterday when he appeared on stage to introduce HP president and CEO, Meg Whitman, to more than 11 000 delegates for her keynote address.

Bacon, who a bunch of college students famously used to prove that there were only six contacts – or degrees – between him and anyone else on earth, revealed that researchers had now narrowed the degree of separation down from six to 4,7. “Whatever ,7 of a person is,” he quipped.

A visibly relaxed Whitman then took to the stage – Autonomy is now only mentioned in terms of product sets, and Leo Apotheker is a distant memory – to once again repeat what has been her mantra at all recent major HP gatherings: That HP is back to its best in terms of invention, innovation and financial stability; its industry leadership role is unchallenged; and that it should be the IT partner of choice for customers.

“Everything comes back to our partnership,” Whitman told delegates. “And I’m here to tell you that we’re looking to be the best technology partner you can have. Frankly, we are nothing without you our customers.

“Our customers have always been at the heart of this company,” she adds. “And that is truer today than ever before.”

Whitman says that over the course of the last year she has personally met with 525 customers and 225 partners.

“You’ve said to me that you want to see HP on a secure financial footing, a company that will be around for a long time to come,” she says. “Believe me, HP is here to stay. Next, you want a great track record of success. We’ve done that, but we’re not resting on our laurels. We want our partners to understand how to work with you towards your success. And, with the great assets that we have, with resilient employees that will work on your behalf, we have little doubt we’ll achieve what we’re all setting out to do.”

Whitman then showed the audience videos of various success stories with customers ranging from Nationwide to United Airlines and DAS, before conducting a Q&A session with Steve Phelps, marketing director of NASCAR which is utilising the company’s technology to interface more closely with race fans.

“We’re here to help you be a hero,” she told customers. “And we do this all around the world every day. We want to be the best technology partner for you and we’re at our happiest when we make you look like Superman.”