Mark Hurd to Oracle? Don't be surprised

Mark Hurd to Oracle? Don't be surprised

Summary: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison defends Mark Hurd and says HP's board just made the worst personnel decision since Apple booted Steve Jobs. Will Ellison hire Hurd to run Oracle's hardware business?

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Throughout the Hewlett-Packard saga surrounding Mark Hurd's resignation as CEO, something seemed off. My question from the very beginning was whether other companies would have ousted Hurd.

Specifically, I couldn't help but wonder: What would Oracle do?

Now we have a definitive answer. Amid reports that HP's board of directors primarily relied on counsel from a public relations firm to make the call on Hurd, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison fired off a missive to the New York Times (Techmeme). The gist: HP's board was downright idiotic for ditching Hurd for a sexual harassment claim that had little merit and fudged expense reports.

Quote of the day goes to Ellison:

The H-P Board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago. That decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn’t come back and saved them. H-P had a long list of failed CEOs until they hired Mark who has spent the last five years doing a brilliant job reviving H-P to its former greatness.

If you read between the lines, you see that Ellison is defending a friend and colleague and floating a trial balloon. If Ellison finds backers, don't be surprised if he hires Hurd. The only wild card---and it's a big one---is whether Hurd would want to be something other than a CEO. The following quote makes it really clear where Ellison stands:

Publishing known false sexual harassment claims is not good corporate governance; its cowardly corporate political correctness. Those six directors caused H-P to lose a nearly irreplaceable CEO. Those six directors who voted against Mark can try hard to hide behind a claim of “good corporate governance” but their decision has already cost H-P shareholders over $10 billion … and my guess it’s going to cost them a lot more.

Simply put, it wouldn't be a surprise if Hurd somehow winds up at Oracle. Clearly, Ellison is willing to put shareholder value over headline risks. Let's put the moving parts together.

  • Ellison would have a dream team with Hurd, Safra Catz and Charles Phillips.
  • Hurd could run Oracle's hardware business and eliminate the hardware distraction for management.
  • Hurd could give Oracle the know-how to become an efficient hardware company and build off of the Sun deal. What would Hurd do with an army of Exadata machines?
  • Hurd and Ellison have a mutual nemesis: IBM. If Hurd joins Oracle you can add HP to that list too.
  • And Hurd likes to acquire assets almost as much as Ellison. At HP, Hurd orchestrated the purchases of EDS, 3Com and Palm. Oracle hasn't been shy about saying that Sun was just the beginning of hardware acquisitions.

Add it up and a Hurd to Oracle move makes a lot of sense. Oracle strengthens its management bench and maybe even provides for a little succession planning for Ellison---just in case he wants to completely focus on his yacht in the future. Ellison's bio seems to indicate that he at least thinks about a little succession planning.

Hell, Bob Warfield asks whether Oracle could even buy HP. Hire Hurd, buy HP. Crazy thoughts, but not impossible.

More: Ethics of Exit - two opposing views on HP's ousting of Hurd

Topics: Legal, Banking, Enterprise Software, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle

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27 comments
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  • I have to admit...

    I was surprised he was pushed out too. Hurd put HP in a potentially very strong position with the Palm acquisition. Whatever vision Hurd had will now be up to someone else, assuming they share that vision and can pull it off.

    Sexual harassment in the workplace can be a very damaging situation. My guess is that Hurd was a heck of a lot more important to HP than the alleged victim. She could have been paid (generous) damages and sent on her way, and Hurd could have gotten back to running HP. He probably would have been more careful in the future.
    Economister
    • RE: Mark Hurd to Oracle? Don't be surprised

      @Economister
      Forgive me if I misunderstood your post, but it seems that you are condoning sexual harrasment in the workplace. This should not be allowed anywhere no matter how "important" that person is to the company. Had he been given a slap on the wrist, he would've continued to do it and would have sent the worng message to the rest of the employees and maybe other people in charge of other companies.

      If the allegations are true, the board did the right thing. Kudos to the board.

      Bert
      riverab@...
      • Nonsense

        @riverab@...

        It has nothing to do with condoning anything. It has to do with looking after the shareholders, which is what the board is supposed to do. If the allegations are true and the woman is compensated, the matter is closed. Clearly, if it happened a second time, the situation could be more serious.

        What if Mr. Hurd took a company pen home? That is theft of company property, surely also a serious matter. I guess he should be fired for that too.

        The seriousness of the offense and the impact on the corporation matter, even if the act is wrong / illegal.
        Economister
      • RE: Mark Hurd to Oracle? Don't be surprised

        @riverab@...

        Except that it wasn't sexual harrassment that they nailed him for. The board "acquitted" him on that, but discovered things in the investigation that they canned him for.

        The board has been pretty tight-lipped with details so there may actually be some nasty stuff there. But what has leaked out so far really wasn't very onerous. Even the woman who filed the sexual harrassment charges was unhappy that he was fired.
        SlithyTove
      • If...

        @SlithyTove

        there are other issues/causes, that of course may change the picture completely. The board may indeed have had reasons to get rid of him. I did not think a simple/single sexual harassment case was sufficient.
        Economister
    • RE: Mark Hurd to Oracle? Don't be surprised

      @Economister <br>I'm not trying to be sarcastic here, but maybe you could have picked a better argument than to steal a pen for example a copier or a server. When a pen runs out of ink you throw it away and get another one. Are you then discarding company property without proper approval?<br><br>Maybe the board was looking at the big picture although I don't know how they came to their conclusion. Here is my thought. Board: Hey, if we allow "insert employee name here" to get away with this we may not be able to attract the talented people that we need and this will in turn hurt our bottom line and our shareholders.<br><br>Bert

      Sorry, I meant to reply to your reply. How do I dod that?
      Thanks.
      riverab@...
      • If my memory serves me correctly ...

        @riverab@...

        she was a contractor, not involved in the day to day operations. My point was twofold:

        1. The magnitude of the transgression matters.

        2. The impact on the corporation matters even more.

        Now, if Ballmer were found guilty of sexual harassment (or stealing a pen) and fired, I may look at it entirely differently. ;-)
        Economister
      • RE: Mark Hurd to Oracle? Don't be surprised

        @Economister<br>The only ones to charge Balmer with harassment would be Developers, Developers, Developers. Developers, Deveeloopeerss, Devvv... (Picture Balmer falling to the ground out of breath).<br><br>Bert
        riverab@...
    • RE: Mark Hurd to Oracle? Don't be surprised

      @Economister Your post seems a little "off". It seems to say that because Mark Hurd was so much more important than "some woman" He should have gotten a pass. Also it seems that paying off this woman somehow makes what happened acceptable. You then compared sexual harassment with stealing a pen. That's a pretty scary thing to say.

      Any type of sexual relationship that gets mixed with business compromises the business. People don't make solid business decisions when their emotions are involved. Even if both of them consented or the woman later dropped the charges, Mark Hurd is putting his emotions and desires a head of his brain. This is a recipe for disaster in a business.
      mr1972
      • Several points

        @mr1972<br><br>1. "It seems to say that because Mark Hurd was so much more important than "some woman" He should have gotten a pass." <br>No, he should not have gotten a pass. If guilty, the woman would receive damages and Hurd could have been made to pay those out of his own pocket, which would have been entirely appropriate.<br>Lets face it, some people ARE more important. That is why Obama travels on Air Force One and has Secret Service protection and I travel economy class with some nut next to me.<br><br>2. "You then compared sexual harassment with stealing a pen. That's a pretty scary thing to say."<br>No, I did not. I merely made an important point, which is that the magnitude of the transgression matters, and not just some principle. If it is a matter of principle, then stealing a pen should also be cause for dismissal.<br><br>3. "Any type of sexual relationship that gets mixed with business compromises the business."<br>Well, that MAY be true, but affairs with co-workers happen all the time, and sometimes people even fall in love and get married. Sex is part of the human condition. If you want to eliminate it completely in (not literally) the workplace, all I can say is good luck with that.
        Economister
  • This is somewhat like Jobs leaving Apple

    Board dumps outstanding Exec.

    Now everyone is giong to be watching HP and how they perform. Especially in moving forward with Palm and the tablet.

    And somehow I doubt if Hurd will return to pull the company out later.
    Ken_z
  • RE: Mark Hurd to Oracle? Don't be surprised

    Larry is to be admired for standing up for his friend. I just wonder if he would show the same tolerance to one of his own employees.
    toyoko
  • Just add money

    @Economister - You are saying that sexual harassment is ok as long as you can afford it. Just pay money and try harder not to get caught next time.

    Wrong approach.
    pwatson
  • Acquire and destroy is for missile systems, ...

    but HP seems to have adopted the methodology wholeheartedly.<br><br>HP has missed multiple top-tier acquisitions and taken on second and third-tier organizations. If that were not bad enough, HP assimilates the acquisition into their failing culture instead of benefiting from the good things for which they are paying. The shareholder's value is wasted.<br><br>Hurd is great with numbers and can make spreadsheets sing. He did some important and effective cost cutting. The problem is that he seems to have no other strategy. HP has hit bone.<br><br>Many people need to lose weight. Taking the strategy into anorexia results in death.
    pwatson
  • Hurd to Oracle...

    another Larry butt-kisser. That's all the world needs. Who cares really. If he goes, great. Not that it will make the Oracle take over of SUN any better. Hurd had a chance to coin a great deal with Sun. I know, I proposed part of it and they turned it down flat. Would have made HP BILLIONs and he turned it down and then lowered his zipper on some contractor.

    Evidently Larry, it's not all as it reads in the papers. There's more, but you'll deny that.

    Purchase HP? Not without massive shareholder approval and an SEC reaming like you've never experienced before.

    I can't see HP going to Oracle as the businesses don't compliment one another and Ellison's never been in the ink business. Thank God. It's bad enough seeing his picture on the net or seeing him in person, but on every ink cartridge? EEK
    docmurdock
  • and...

    this is NOT akin to Jobs departure from Apple. Steve was a founder, not a wannabe. He was part of the company from the beginning and was tossed out in a bad move by the board. However, if that move had never taken place, would Apple have risen to where it is today, in the time that it has? Probably not.

    Because certain things had to take place for all this to happen. Certain people had to be in certain places, meetings, events, and other little things...christmas cards...emails...newspaper articles...it was a whole recipe in the making that caused Apple to do what it did and bring Steve back when it did.

    Those of us who played a part in it all, know that timing is everything and this all happened in the right time.
    docmurdock
  • RE: Mark Hurd to Oracle? Don't be surprised

    Talk about rush to judgment by the HP board and many posters here. It sounds like Mr. Hurd made a poor decision with contractor (XXX film star) who saw a good shakedown, that she now recants; NO SEX or harassment.

    Hurd has died the death of a thousand cuts much like what happened to US AG Gonzalez due to the media.

    HP Board decided to go public disclosing a totally unsubstantiated sex angle due to potential leaks - bah, HP leaked to cover-thy-butt smear to justify the boards actions. Padding expense reports for less than $20K - fire able - technically yes butttttttt?!@#$%^&

    With Hurd's golden pension (he still got) - he would be foolish to take another job (also he may have signed a X yrs non-compete too). Hurd should hit the speaking/book circuit and some business consulting - so he has total control of his life/time while pulling in the bigger $$$. Now it all is up to Hurd's ego - all CEO's have them!
    Kuby
  • Mark Hurd to jail? Don't be surprised.

    Dude is a C-level exec, and gets caught behaving like this? You really don't think there's more to this story? You really think dude isn't a schmuck, and will golden-chute it over to Oracle? Hah.
    Techboy_z
  • RE: Mark Hurd to Oracle? Don't be surprised

    Larry is defending Mark because Larry partakes in similar "activities". Unlike Mark, Larry owns a large chunk of Oracle stock so removing him would be very difficult, even by the board of directors.
    phatkat
  • RE: Mark Hurd to Oracle? Don't be surprised

    No surprise to me. Well known within Oracle that Larry has settled multiple sexual harassment issues by writing big checks, he also has supported senior execs that commit discrimination against women, I know because I worked for one that repeatedly got away with it.
    cujjjo