Need a job? Ask the Oracle (boss)

Former HP boss Mark Hurd may be offered a job by Oracle's Larry Ellison. Nice to have friends in high places...

by MT Staff
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
A rapid turnaround in fortunes for Mark Hurd: the man who was ousted as CEO of Hewlett-Packard last month, amid harassment and dodgy expenses claims, is reportedly on the brink of taking at senior management role at fellow Silicon Valley behemoth Oracle. The latter's boss Larry Ellison is an old tennis buddy of Hurd's, and publicly slammed HP's decision at the time; now it seems he's going one step further by offering Hurd a job. In many ways it makes sense: Hurd's undoubtedly a talented exec, who'll have some valuable knowledge and experience to bring to Oracle. But while it's great news for Hurd, we can't help feeling a bit sorry for the poor soul who's going to shunted sideways, downwards or out to accommodate the boss's mate...

In these times of extreme corporate scrutiny, you'd have expected Hurd to be out of the spotlight for a while following his acrimonious departure from HP. But it clearly helps to have mates in high places - especially when that mate is America’s third-richest man. Larry Ellison, the Oracle chief and Silicon Valley legend, came out in 'defense' of his tennis buddy in the wake of his ousting early last month, emailing the New York Times to describe HP’s handling of the affair as ‘cowardly', and suggesting (with some justification) that Hurd had spent five years doing a ‘brilliant job’ after ‘a long list of failed CEOs’. He even called it ‘the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs’. In the Valley, it doesn't get any ruder than that.

Hurd's professional credentials aren’t in any doubt. He was doing a cracking job at HP before the scandal struck, making it the number one technology company and the world's biggest PC maker; its stock market value nearly doubled during his tenure. And if he does join Ellison's firm, it would be another kick in the motherboard for HP. It's already facing a shareholder lawsuit from a Massachusetts pension fund, which is claiming that getting rid of Hurd wiped £9bn off its stock. Worse still, Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems in January brought it into direct competition with HP in the hardware space for the first time – so HP may end up handing over a wealth of insider knowledge to a genuine rival. Sometimes impeccable corporate governance comes at a cost.

And spare a thought for Oracle's current senior management. Even if Hurd technically comes in with a brand new job title, they're unlikely to be happy about their diminished influence...

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