I am listening in on the HP press conference. It's not exactly a conference in that neither CEO and soon to be Chairman Mark Hurd and Mike Holston of HP's external law firm Morgan Lewis are taking questions about HPGate (Full Coverage). Hurd and company will take questions at a Sept. 28 at hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Hurd probably is feeling a little less concerned about his job in that California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said the so far no evidence links him to any criminal wrongdoing. The investigation is still ongoing, and whether Hurd and company broke any laws is just part of the story. In the eyes of many, including me, HP executives and board members have been complicit in a lot of unethical behavior.
In the prepared remarks, Hurd said that his goal was to be as transparent and accurate as possible, sharing facts and next steps with the constraints of an ongoing investigation. It has nothing to with HP's operations, he said. As of today HP does not have all the facts, and there is no guarantee that all facts will come out due to the complexity and number players involved, Hurd said.
He went on to say that leaks hurt the company's reputation and ability to operate. Finding the leaks was an appropriate course of action, he said. The first phase of HP's investigation yielded inconclusive results, and in the second phase nobody caught on to the inappropriate methods. Hurd then outlined what he knew, when. In Februrary 2006, he was informed about sending a false email and approved the method and naming convention, but he could not recall any knowledge of tracer technology, such as spyware, for surveillance. I guess Hurd doesn't consider sending false emails inappropriate to the task of ferreting out leakers.
He said he didn't read a email report addressed to him that revealed some of the inappropriate methods. The trigger was an email several weeks after the May board meeting, Hurd said, indicating issues with the processes. On September 8, Hurd employed the law firm Morgan Lewis, reporting directly to him. "We are committed to get to bottom of this," Hurd said. So far the firm has collected 1 million documents. "We believe now we have a substantial set of facts and we are confident that we have good understanding of what went on around investigation." He went on to say that some of findings are "very disturbing," and he extended his apology to the journalists and others who were part of the investigation.
Finally, Hurd described the affair as "isolated incidents of impropriety, and not an indication of how we conduct business at Hewlett-Packard." Now Mike Holston is going over a chronology of the events and the methods used to gather information on journalists.
In addition, HP accepted the resignation Patricia Dunn from the board, effective immediately, and Hurd is now chairman. Bart M. Schwartz was appointed at counsel.