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HP CEO Mark Hurd Resigns Over Sexual Harassment Investigation (marketwatch.com)
74 points by talbina 2270 days ago | hide | past | web | 47 comments | favorite

This is really sad. HP has been making a lot of really interesting strategic decisions lately, some decisions that I think have been set up through acquisitions and product development over the past few years. Mark Hurd seemed to know what he was doing on a long term scale, which is something unusual in a company like HP. That he was fired over something as unrelated to business skill as sexual harassment is sad. Shame on him, of course, but I wonder if his absence will end up hurting HP more in the long term than his personal actions over the short term.

HP recently hired some top notch industrial designers, and their newest computers are built far better than the older ones. The acquisition of WebOS was strategic. HP is poised to take on Android and iOS if they can execute well enough. From what I have seen, HP has been putting all the pieces into place for positioning themselves as the Apple of the PC world, at least in their high end market. They even embarrassed Microsoft by refusing to support the Windows 7 Slate in a consumer device. That's a big risk I was surprised HP took. It sends a message.

I was excited about HP’s future, but now I’m not so sure. HP just lost its Steve Jobs.


Someone else in this thread linked to this awesome NYT article about Hurd: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/technology/companies/26hp....

That he was fired over something as unrelated to business skill as sexual harassment is sad.

It turns out that it was more to do with inappropriate payments to a contractor with whom he had a person relationship. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-06/hp-chief-mark-hurd-... The headlines are rather misleading in this respect...I'm not sure whether that tells us more about journalists or the way HP announced his departure.

edit: more comprehensive report w/press release text: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/techchron/detail?entry_i...

But regardless of the specifics, your implication that a firm should employ no other criteria than financial ones for employment decisions is odd to me. Private affairs are one thing, but committing a crime or tort on the job is considered unacceptable for most employees. How much incidental misbehavior do you think is excusable by high productivity? Alternatively, how much lawsuit liability should an employee be able to run up on their own account?

I don't know the specifics and I don't mean to suggest that what Hurd did was excusable. I am just exploring my thoughts on HP's strategy and how this affects the company and the industry.

Greed. If you're going to have a monetary sexual relationship, might as well as man up and pay from your own pocket, not put it on the company's tab.

I don't think employees will miss Mark Hurd. It's true that HP's profits are soaring and the stock price is high, but he was an extremely disliked CEO. The rabid cost cutting in recent years made HP an awful place to work. Glassdoor ranked HP has the 3rd worst company to work for in tech in 2009. Product quality has definitely slipped as a result of the low morale. SquareTrade's 2009 laptop reliability survey ranked HP as the least reliable notebook manufacturer. Product delays and cancellations aren't about sending a message to Microsoft, what they're really about is an inability execute on ideas.

No one I know in HP is going to miss Hurd. The company has been a miserable place to work since the Fiorina days. Of course that may be a temporary state of affairs, since Hurd has been working to turn HP into a brand name applied to low-end junk designed by contractors in China, and a corporate shell in the US to market it.

Lower level employees get fired for sexual harassment. Same standards should also apply to CEOs.

But as the years passed, as I dealt with hundreds of entrepreneurs, and with Packard himself, I began to understand that the key to the greatness of Bill Hewlett and David Packard was that they held no attachment to things, only people. The garage was left behind, as would be, in time, the redwood building. So too was the audio oscillator and thousands of other products--all abandoned in the endless pursuit of something better. Only the people remained, and they were cherished and respected, far more than by any corporation in history.

- Michael Malone http://www.forbes.com/2000/10/19/1019malone.html

Mark Hurd did not fit in this mold. Neither did Fiorina.

The curse of the publicly traded company, after the founders retire. There are precious few companies that can survive this transition - as the principled, long-term management style is swapped out for quick profits and lowest-common-denominator management.

I suspect there's more of the early HP spirit at Agilent than at HP. Somehow when Compaq got the HP computer division, they got the name too, and the very cool test equipment part of HP got the new name Agilent. (This is my recollection, I'm sure the wikipedia has a much more detailed history)

I chuckle when I see the old tube-type HP gear as movie props. The HP 330 series distortion analyzer has had many appearances including on the wall in the presidents office in Battlestar Galactica. HP and Tektronix certainly have had many years as favorites for much of their test gear. Much older equipment is still in use. It's an eye opener to see the circuit boards with all the traces covered in gold. Not just an edge connector... the entire boards. Time to dust off my favorite early piece, the HP 300 Harmonic Wave Analyzer...


It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.

Maybe less than five minutes.

Actually, I've wondered idly before what that time window might be between witnessing a behavior in someone for whom you hold a lot of respect and deciding that no, it's not an illusion, they are actually doing that, and that your estimation of them will consequently have to go down.

Um, I think you missed the joke :-\

Just FYI, I got it and found it funny. Highlight of the thread, IMO.

The question is: after the dust settles, can it be repaired?

He says "I realized there were instances in which I did not live up to the standards and principles of trust, respect and integrity that I have espoused at HP and which have guided me throughout my career"

While his actions do seem inexcusable, it is good to see that he is admitting error. Too often, people refuse to accept any personal errors and prefer to portray themselves as innocent victims. It is good to see that Hurd didn't choose that path.

[edit: note to downvoters and johnknee's question - HP's investigation concluded that there were violations of HP's standards of business conduct and Hurd himself has acknowledged his error. Hurd has also admitted that the inaccurate expense reports were intended to conceal his personal relationship with the female marketing contractor and that this "showed a profound lack of judgment"

If you disagree and if you find no fault with Hurd, I suggest you take it up with HP and with Hurd himself.]

> While his actions do seem inexcusable

What were his actions? I didn't see anything about what the accusation was.

Aug. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Hewlett-Packard Co.’s Mark Hurd resigned as chief executive officer after an investigation found he had a personal relationship with a contractor who received pay from the company that wasn’t business-related.


Most likely part of the deal of him resigning includes keeping those details out of the public.

"The investigation determined there was no violation of HP's sexual harassment policy, but did find violations of HP's Standards of Business Conduct." - hum, that is a curious line.

HP seems to have no luck with CEOs. I wonder if they will use this situation to find someone more familiar with the mobile space.

They are in a tricky situation because a the alleged victim will certainly sue the company if she (or he) has not done so already, so if the board admits there was sexual harassment in an internal investigation that will be used against the company.

They state the complaint was from a contractor. This line would suggest that he may have been giving business to them, possibly unfairly.

Google stop supporting a product that not many people used, and it jumps to a thousand upvotes and remains on top for over a day, attracting hundreds of comments.

The CEO of a top 5 IT firm resigns after admitting to inproprietaries and sexual harrasment, dropping almost 10% of the stock price (around 10B of market cap) and the story struggles to make the front page and doesn't attract many comments.

This is really big news, and I am surprised that it isn't being covered more and more in-depth. I think it is fair to say that a large portion of HN readers, and the general tech/startup blogosphere, have no idea how the IT world works, who this guy really was, what his job was etc. If this was Apple, the story wouldn't die for weeks. Enterprise and hardware make up a huge part of IT, it is just covered poorly.

(Edit: there was a lot of hype around wave, granted, I could probably find a better example of less-significant events that attract a lot of attention)

Wow. That situation sounds pretty bad.

> According to a recent survey, 100 per cent of female professionals said they had been subjected to sexual harassment by their bosses

As much as I hate Russia^, this is total BS. I can speak of Moscow, S.Petersburg, Perm, Ryazan. It could be anywhere between 0-60%, but 70-100% simply does not match reality.

^ - I'm allowed to, I live here.

He's getting an 8-figure severance package:


Judging from how HP apparently tries to create products that rip off customers (like minuscule ink refills that cost $14 a pop and run out almost immediately), my cynical belief is that "lack of character" is necessary, if not sufficient, for promotion at HP. But in this case, they had nowhere to promote him to.

On the investor call they said they can't talk about candidates right now, but how about subsumed Palm CEO and Apple alum Jon Rubinstein? I don't know how he would fare helming such a vastly larger ship, but the guy knows a thing or two about a focused product strategy and the importance of good UX.

There is no wonder in Mark Hurd's ouster. He was a corporate butcher. In the name of cost cutting he has made the life of many people miserable. Rather I would say that the curse of thousands of people who got suffered because of his dictatorial policies punished him by sacking him. He would have got millions of dollars as severance payment. But history remains that “Mark Hurd has been fired”. Instead of finding new avenues and channels to accommodate the efficient employees, he has simply turned out to be a butcher of sending the people to burial ground.

Idea from far left: this sets up Jon Rubinstein as a potential incoming CEO. He's got the technical chops, and was acquired recently with Palm for a significant amount of money. While I don't have information to confirm otherwise, Rubinstein seems to have the work ethics espoused by Hewlett and Packard. Who knows, maybe HP at the hands of Rubinstein would really rise to become a true competitor to Apple.

i wonder how a new CEO will effect the palm acquisition.

On general principles expect it to die in one way or another, unless it's got a major high level champion left in the company (note that the departure of Hurd might be followed by some people who will now be lacking political cover).

I'm not saying this will happen, it's just that this is an all too common pattern. Nothing in big companies that work like HP gets anywhere without champions ... so see if there are any left.

hey, HP, Jay Allard just left Microsoft! He has built his life on the social aspects of the internet, and knows games. I bet he could make a really successful tablet and phone product.

Social aspects of the internet and games are not part of HP's strategy. HP's in the business of selling infrastructure that makes the internet and games possible.

He probably signed some agreement to keep him working for competitors. Also, I thought Allard was staying on as an "advisor" to Ballmer?

I'm just curious, is anyone looking at the board for a pattern? Shouldn't they have caught on this behavior sooner and taken action to rectify it before this big pile of public mess?

Hurd is a brilliant man and above all, the man could execute. He leaves behind some very talented executives. Let's hope they stick around. This is a wonderful opportunity for someone new to come aboard and give the company a more solid vision because it was unclear what HP's vision was under Hurd. It's tough when you have 300K+ employees.

I think this calls for Vyomesh Joshi to step up. Now that's a guy that works wonders. He's keeping the printing business alive (against all odds) with some serious leadership and innovation.

I used to be obsessed with this 2009 NYTimes profile about him and read it several times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/technology/companies/26hp....

Not anymore.

As someone who has faced different forms of abuse, including sexual abuse. I would ask people not to judge anyone on the basis of sparse information or their mistakes.

We don't even know what happened over here, and I think that nobody is in a position to comment on/judge either party involved. It's just too complicated.

On the other hand, the amazing thing is that HP still retains its core values and asked Mr. Hurd to resign even when they had the option of simply burying it. Even though Bill and Dave are long gone the spirit of their institution still survives. Simply Amazing.

[edit: I am pretty sure that a lot of people will find this comment to be offensive, but think about it. Does judging a situation and the people involved as an outsider help anyone? In fact, it just makes it worse.

On a more personal note, I don't want to be a victim of the cards I've been dealt. I would rather learn how to play the hand. I've learnt to see the silver lining, learn and just move on. It makes life easier to deal with. ]

I wouldn't be so quick to claim HP has any real values. Do you remember this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP_spying_scandal

The simple fact of the matter is that HP makes some decent servers and low cost storage that we buy a lot of. Unfortunately in recent years Mark Hurd has cut their support staff so thin, and outsourced most of it to Costa Rica, so that now when you need support on a server you're more likely to get someone speaking english as a second language that knows about enough to order a part # for you and have it shipped so you can replace it yourself.

I guess for these "cost-cutting measures" Mark Hurd should be praised, or at least he has been praised in this business environment. I don't think he has particularly done anything brilliant other than accelerate the globalization and outsourcing of the tech industry as a whole.

Hi, I am an ex HP and surely can confirm HP has lost its battle in winning the hearts and minds of its employees. 2008 recession, Mark Hurd took $52 million and later after 2 months declared 25% loss and eventually leading to firing spree, which in US also lead to one HP employee commiting suicide.. I bet this is not what Bill and Dave envisioned for HP. Employees hates the phony speech he gives to build up employee morale but reality is everyone hates him. No one knows why Mark is fired. Bad business deals or sexual harrassmenT. And given the mammoth size of HP, no one will know. Brand HP is somewhat a mirage, suferficial and very calous from inside. It's 21'st centuary, its all about packaging, no one cares whats inside anymore.. Every employee is saying one thing right now 'I dont care if Mark stays or goes'...

"On the other hand, the amazing thing is that HP still retains its core values and asked Mr. Hurd to resign even when they had the option of simply burying it. Even though Bill and Dave are long gone the spirit of their institution still survives. Simply Amazing."

The values that circle around not sleeping with your contractors, sure--but don't most companies have those values?

The values that made HP a haven for engineers and a great company in the 20th century, a company people like Woz would have been happy to spend their entire careers working for? It sounds like those days are long past.

We don't know details about the sexual harassment case and I wouldn't judge based on that, but that's not really what it was about. He admits to funneling company money to a close friend's consulting company… I think it's normal to lose respect for the guy.

I saw Neil DeGrasse Tyson talk once and he said something along the lines of "assemble your role model from pieces of lots of different people". You can still admire the admirable things about this man even if he has failed in other ways.

So Hurd is finally finished?


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