Will Mark Hurd survive HPGate unscathed?

Will Mark Hurd survive HPGate unscathed?

Summary: David has been keeping up with PatriciaGate, which is really more than pointing the finger at outgoing HP board chairwoman Patrica Dunn. It's a full-fledged HPGate.

TOPICS: Hewlett-Packard

hurd.jpgDavid has been keeping up with PatriciaGate, which is really more than pointing the finger at outgoing HP board chairwoman Patrica Dunn. It's a full-fledged HPGate. The latest revelation in a New York Times story is that HP developed feasibility studies on planting spies acting as clerical employees or cleaning crews at CNET News.com and The Wall Street Journal. This plotting of black bag operations, industrial spying is like a scene from "All the President's Men" or "Keystone Cops," with bumbling, clueless, unethical, misguided, pernicious participants. It's not that trying to find leakers is wrong, it's the methods.

So far, CEO and soon to be chairman, Mark Hurd has not been at the center of controversy, but this mishandled quest to eliminate board leaks has happened on his watch, following former CEO Carly Fiorina's departure in early 2005. I've have talked to a few PR pros who said that HP will do whatever it can to distance Hurd from the emerging debacle, but he may not survive unscathed. It will come down to what did he know, and when, and what actions did he take. For example, if he had knowledge of plans to plant a temporary worker in the middle of the news room in our office in San Francisco or about the physical surveillance of our reporter Dawn Kawamoto, but did nothing to squash those activities, then he has some serious questions to answer. Given his strong performance in turning HP around so far, the beleagured board, shareholders and Wall Street better hope that Hurd comes out clean from this sordid affair.

Topic: Hewlett-Packard

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  • On the other hand

    If all of that was happening under his nose, with people bypassing him to give orders to his immediate staff, what does that say about him as a manager?

    My own read is that Hurd was actually behind all of it, with the rest doing their part to give him "plausible deniability."
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • I agree

      I suppose it's possible that Ms. Dunn has her own budget and was able to completely bypass the rest of HP in conducting investigations on behalf of the board, but I think it unlikely. Mr. Hurd is the president of HP. It is to be assumed that in this role, he has supervisory authority over all other HP employees (only the board of directors as a body is superior to the CEO). If HP employees and/or funds were used to conduct the investigation, it's inconceivable to me that it could have been done without Mr. Hurd's knowledge and approval.

      It remains an open question how much knowledge either Ms. Dunn or Mr. Hurd had of how the investigation was conducted, but I think it is safe to assume that either disapproved of the methods used, they would have said so, very publicly fired the investigators involved in pretexting, and then contacted the authorities (remembering that pretexting is illegal in California).

      I do not in any way question the right and duty of Ms. Dunn to investigate violations of HP board rules, to include breaches of confidentiality (board chairmen are supposed to enforce the rules); it's the fraudulent means employed that stink.
      John L. Ries
  • mrooonie

    Well what exactly is being done to help this case? I feel the company isn't trying to do anything to dig itself out of this hole. Sure I've heard apologies from Hurd and empty promises that it won't happen again but are they really doing anything to try to prevent this from happening again? http://www.iwantmyess.com/index.php?paged=2

    Their first priority should have been to re-evaluate their internal security and make sure data leaks do not occur again. They should also set up contracts that ensure employees with a certain level of privacy that no higher level employee can exploit or override....
  • Hurd has bigger fish to fry

    Hurd is too busy making the company profitable by hosing the workforce to bother with political intrigue. Try to get his nose out of a spreadsheet long enough to do something unethical.

    He's WAY too preoccupied doing things that are IMMORAL !!
    • Right

      He's the president of a Fortune 500 company. He'd better be half-politician if he wants to be effective (managing stockholders and board members is part of the job). We already know he was involved in at least some aspects of the leak investigation; how much he knew is an open question, but I suspect he knew everything Patricia Dunn (his titular boss) did.
      John L. Ries
      • Wait a minute ....

        "I suspect he knew everything Patricia Dunn (his titular boss) did."

        Let's keep her gender out of this !!!
        • I said nothing about gender

          Patricia Dunn, as chairman of HP's board, is Mark Hurd's titular boss (as in "title"). I don't know enough about HP's internal workings to determine if Dunn's supervisory authority is more than theoretical, as non-CEO corporate chairmen are sometimes figureheads.
          John L. Ries
          • Bad joke

            I think it was the poster's attempt to make a juvenile joke about the word "titular".
          • Very Astute !!

            I agree it was juvenile, but I though it was funny at the time. Actually, it STILL gives me a chuckle.