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The Hurd Hoax?

First thing first. There is absolutely no data or facts behind my theory on why Mark Hurd left HP. It is 100% pure conjecture on my part. No data, no information - just 100% made up.

I have been trying to figure out how HP could have lost such a super star CEO. I have been tracking Hurd's progress since he took over after Carly. Like many people, I have been totally amazed by his ability to grow an already enormous company. To me, he is the perfect blend of sales and operations and he demonstrated that over the years at HP. Apparently he is not well liked but no change-agent is and HP needed a major refactor.

The following is a story about the reason he left. I use the word "story" because it's completely fictional.

Mark Hurd joined HP around March 2005 so he has been there over 5 years. He has battled the old HP culture, streamlined and produced fantastic results in the form of revenue/expense. Along the way he's made enemies internally and probably angered the long-timers who yearn for the HP days of work/life balance. On the one hand, it's a shame to loose the old culture but on the other hand it was probably necessary. Same thing happened at Cisco with the wake-up call in 2000.

Mark hits his 5 year anniversary and is tired and frustrated. All the tremendous success and he still has to battle the factions internally who present as many roadblocks as they can to trip him up. The stock has gone through the roof and the same folks who have made a boat-load of money are critiquing his every move.

Mark wants out. He wants to be CEO of a company that has more of an edge, more of a get-it-done culture and a willingness to push everyone to the edge. Larry Ellison needs a true successor. He and Larry have been talking over the years. Larry likes Mark's proven track record and Mark likes Larry's brash and brazen style.

Mark cooks up a plan to get out of HP. He knows of Jodie Fisher and who better than an actress to help him pull off the hoax of the century. He works a deal with Jodie - Jodie claims sexual harassment, Hurd tells HP that he should step down and Larry picks Hurd up as the next Oracle CEO. Jodie makes enough to retire. Mark knows it will not affect his reputation. Mark tells his wife of the arrangement and that there is nothing going on. She plays along which explains why they are still married and why no one has heard a peep out of her.

This explains why he gave in so quickly and stepped down. This explains why Jodie has said nothing more and why she didn't claim much of anything. This explains why Jodie won't write a book about it. It explains why there isn't and will not be any divorce or any comments from Hurd's wife. This explains why Hurd seemed completely happy and almost anxious to leave. This explains why Larry first defended Mark, said that HP was foolish and then brought him on-board with HP.

So you ask, "Why not just quit?". Maybe because Hurd wanted to pull a monumental hoax on HP's board. Maybe he's a little bit crazier than we think he is. Maybe he's laughing at the fact that an actress and some $20k expense reports have just enabled him to become CEO of Oracle.


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