Monday, November 8, 2010

the story just won't die

The HP Board must have wanted to get even, or at least "weigh in". After the calming of things for a couple of weeks, Ellison couldn't resist going on the offensive again, trying to tar Apotheker with fraud and intent to cheat Oracle (oh, my, takes one to know one?), and more importantly, tie his hands as he starts this week at HP with a lawsuit over IP and trade secret theft and infringement (weren't those the concerns of HP's Board if Hurd went to Oracle?).

So, in the Wall Street Journal, and in Fortune, we find stories back-to-back "illuminating" the issues behind the Board's findings that led to ousting Hurd. Ah, the drama and suspense -- imagine watching a key football game in Mark's hotel room after drinks downstairs (with a TV there), but our girl wasn't needed for the Boise meetings, she just happened to be in town on HP's nickel. Undoubtedly no sexual harassment. More like the claim, as yet not picked up by any local area newspaper, that ran last week in the NY Post claiming that Hurd and an unnamed Marketing VP of Sun Microsystems had consensual relations in 2007.

This guy sounds kinda like Clinton and Kennedy, apparently plenty capable in his main job, but a little driven by his loins.

HP 'sources' went out of their way to explain that, except for this set of lying cheating pecadillos, they loved the guy, contrary to some outside observer comments (presumably including mine). If so, I'm saddened. I would have hoped that the Board was indeed beginning to catch on that he had raped HP's future almost as badly, if not worse, than his consorts. But maybe as I feared, this too was consensual. In which case, they have complicity. And in which case, you have to ask, "who's really running the place?" Is there a long-term perspective around?

10 comments:

ch said...

after reading the recent wsj piece, it boggles my mind that the board paid hurd so much (or anything!) to leave.

ch said...

after reading the recent wsj piece, it boggles my mind that the board paid hurd so much (or anything!) to leave.

ch said...

after reading the recent wsj piece, it boggles my mind that the board paid hurd so much (or anything!) to leave.

solentbreeze said...

Since 96 one wonders who actually runs/controls this company. What came first the “CEO or the BOD” (chicken or the egg analogy)! The relationship between the CEO & BOD would nowadays seem to be an incestuous one! The CEO & BOD need to held directly accountable to the shareholders, It is our company/money they are spending! Bigger isn’t necessarily better, life was much simpler when H & P were around , then you knew who was in charge!!

chuck said...

The Achilles Heel problem comes to mind here. Yes, Hewlett and Packard 'ran things' and they were awfully good, but many observers were concerned towards the end of their reign that (a) they'd lost touch, and (b) they had definitely NOT built a strong board since they themselves were so strong.

Our book (pp 379-381) documents the disaster in 1992 when Packard, in a rage actually, got rid of all of the accumulated experience of the Board and Exec Committee, and pitted Hackborn against Platt with a very green board.

That Board was a catastrophe when the Roelandts/Hackborn struggle erupted just before Packard died.

Fast forward to now -- seven of the ten directors who voted Hurd out were his cronies, some with radically crummy backgrounds to listen to those who 'knew them back home'. Ray Lane, as a new addition, is for my taste the most serious and mature person there with a solid track record in hitech

As you've probably gathered, I am not fully sympathetic to the notion that companies and CEOs and Boards are directly accountable only to shareholders. There is a sharp debate to be had about shareholders vs stakeholders, and I weigh in strongly on behalf of stakeholders.

It is not just a question of who's money it is 'today', but over the long run, which has to factor in the 'intangibles' of customer and vendor and employee and community loyalty -- all things which are enormously valuable over the long haul. Which is why funding innovation seems like a good idea compared to focusing on short term profits.

The one that is hardest to reconcile for me is the enormous pay packages for the few (including a 'fired CEO's consolation prize') -- I don't see how this helps either shareholders or stakeholders...

chuck said...
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chuck said...
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solentbreeze said...

oh for the days that the CEO had a metal desk, an "open" no door cubicle, and coffee in the cafeteria!

chuck said...

Amen!

Swanmotion said...

The story just won't die and may it never die.

Tomorrow in Europe we remember the fallen from a disastrous examples of bad leadership (Nov 11th WW1).

If the story lives on then maybe, just maybe, it will serve as a reminder to those with power that morality is lead by example.