Amid speculation all week, the next shoe dropped finally yesterday, as Oracle's arrogant Larry Ellison announced that Mark Hurd would become the new co-President of Oracle, replacing beleagured married Chuck Phillips (whose jilted girl friend put a saucy Times Square billboard up in January). HP wasted no time in filing for an injunction to prevent it, filing in Santa Clara County court at 11:30am this morning, citing a clear violation of their mutual contract and a damaging competitive unfair practices situation. These are tough things to win in California, since judges have viewed them as 'limiting a person's ability to hold a job'. But this one is about as high-profile as you can get; if it is unwinnable, it could well launch a whole new level of pirating key execs.
HP's claims, that Hurd four times in the past three years has signed confidentiality documents, including the finale on August 6, 2010, seem clear enough. HP further noted that he was WELL COMPENSATED in the resignation, partially in order to ensure the confidentiality clause. Well, it would seem that $42 million should have tided him (and any payments to women) over for more than thirty days. But maybe his $7.15 million Atherton home is a bit chilly these days, and he has to husband his cash.... And doubtless, the mere two years that he is supposed to be enjoined might seem longish if you're used to having $20 or $30 million in spending money each year. Poor man.... has to find employment somehow, especially at his advancing age
My take is that this may be the straw that breaks the camel's back. This is an incredibly confrontive act on the part of Ellison and Hurd, a pair who could find even closer friendship in the days ahead since they obviously share core ethical disregard for ordinary laws and rules. It figures -- one of Larry's previous tennis partners and erstwhile competitors in databases went to jail for kiting Informix financials a few years back, a mere 'billion dollar misstatement' for a company whose annual revenues were about that same size. Were it not for cases like Enron and the amazing theft via stock option backdating, "a mere billion" could have raised hackles. We still, of course, don't know the extent of the infractions that led to HP and Hurd separating...
Think about it this way -- seven hand-selected Hurd lieutenants and three others vote UNANIMOUSLY to ask for his resignation -- at a time the world viewed Hurd as "the" HP shareholder savior. They KNEW this would not play well on Wall Street, but they voted their conscience. Doesn't it stretch all credulity to think that the Board was concerned enough about non-sexual non harassment and supposedly $1,000 or maybe a little more in faked expense reports to fire this guy? I give you example A -- yesterday's announcement was as deceitful as the way he managed at NCR and at HP for the past decade. He is dishonorable, unethical, a total fraud and cheat, and he just got exposed more clearly. Plus, as I noted before, he's still a thug.