The e-mails were flying fast between 2:07pm and 2:09pm last Friday afternoon. I arrived home from a visit to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation at 2:21pm, unaware that HP had just announced that Mark Hurd had just resigned. The e-mails were from a varied lot -- KGO/TV who had never ever tried to call me before; reporters for Business Week, CNBC, etc with whom I'd met once or twice in previous years; friends and colleagues from HP today and "the old HP".
Sexual harassment that didn't happen?
A few mis-stated expense reports, that "totalled" somewhere between $1,000 and $20,000? This turned out (missed by nearly all the columnists) to be for EACH ONE. The 2008 10K report says Hurd was re-imbursed $79,814 in tax "True-ups" for the estimated $243,000 in "personal meals" that he ate on behalf of HP. This was in the midst of the three years cited with "his girl friend" -- sounds like a little more money than the initial reports.
All bogus, in my view. This guy was a thug, nicknamed Mark Turd by ex-HPites who worked directly for him -- stories that have circulated in the Valley for three years. He raped HP employees (figuratively, without violating the sexual conduct code at HP) by eliminating the sixty-five year concept of profit sharing, preferring to move to obscene bonuses for himself and his five top minions -- a mere $113 million payout for them in a year he chopped everyone else's pay by 5% plus profit-sharing. These were raises for some of the five people by as much as 400% -- a tidy uptick.
He was profane, a bully, autocratic, threatening, demeaning, vindictive, and rude. Blogs over the weekend by current employees said "Hooray, the tyrant is gone!" I couldn't contain my glee on the 11pm news -- best news for HP in a very long time!
The Voice of the Workplace, HP's thirty-five year historic 'measure' of employee feelings (done every five years) showed in April an astonishing finding -- more than two-thirds of HP's employees would quit tomorrow if they had an equivalent job offer. Not a raise, not a promotion, simply an alternative. That number never used to be in double digits. Other companies in the Valley have reported an amazing rate of HP resumes being submitted; one large company saying, "we didn't know they had that many people working there".
There's lots more to "worry about", and it is easy to imagine that the HP Board was worrying about all of them, but didn't know where to "pin the blame". This "non-sexual" harassment was simply a convenient foil...