Ellison Slams HP Over Hurd Ouster

Oracle CEO claims Hewlett-Packard made the worst tech-industry personnel decision since Apple fired Steve Jobs.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said Hewlett-Packard erred greatly when it fired star CEO Mark Hurd last week for cavorting with a blonde marketing contractor and allegedly using fudged expense reports to cover up the get-togethers.

"The HP board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago," Ellison wrote, in an e-mail Monday to The New York Times. "In losing Mark Hurd, the HP board failed to act in the best interest of HP's employees, shareholders, customers, and partners," said Ellison.

Jobs was fired as the head of Mac engineering at Apple in 1985 amid tension with then-CEO John Sculley, before returning years later to resurrect the company.

Ellison implied that HP's board may have simply used Hurd's relationship with Jodie Fisher as an excuse to get rid of the CEO, who was reportedly in the middle of negotiations for a lucrative new contract. "Publishing known false sexual harassment claims is not good corporate governance, it's cowardly corporate political correctness," Ellison wrote.

Ellison's knock against HP's remaining overseers should be taken with a grain of salt, however. Oracle, which in January paid $7.4 billion to acquire Sun Microsystems in an effort to match the broad portfolio business systems offered by HP and IBM, stands to benefit from any disruptions at Hurd's former employer that arise in the wake of last week's events.

HP stunned the tech industry Friday with the announcement that Hurd, 53, was out. The company said an investigation by outside legal counsel and its own General Counsel's office found that Hurd did not violate its sexual harassment policies, but broke the company's Standards of Business Conduct rules.

HP appointed CFO Cathie Lesjak, 51, as interim CEO while it carries out a search for a full-time replacement for Hurd.


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