By now you’ve probably heard the news. Hewlett-Packard CEO, Mark Hurd has resigned over a sexual harassment scandal. That sounds pretty cut and dry, and that is just the problem. Something about this entire situation reeks of cover-up.
HP claims that Hurd’s departure is not because of an impropriety with his accuser, Jodie Fisher. His departure is due to false expense reports and his failure to live up to HP’s ethical expectations. Anyone buy that? Fisher has retained the services of the always non-squirrelly Gloria Allred, has already accepted a private offer from Hurd and fervently denied any sexual relations took place. Sounds like someone took a page from the Tiger Wood’s playbook of how not to deal with a sex scandal. Pay big, pay fast and require total silence.
When is the last time someone hired Gloria Allred and they weren’t looking for a payoff, book deal or movie of the week? Have we forgotten that it was only in 2006 that the HP board was embroiled in a scandal involving spying on reporters and directors phone records, forcing the resignation of then board chairwoman Patricia Dunn. Does HP really have ethical standards that would force out a CEO who has overseen a $41 billion increase in the market value of the company. A 38% increase in market value since Hurd took the reigns to $108 billion, making HP the worlds largest technology company. In just the last day the value of HP has dropped 8%, almost $10 billion. That makes the truth behind the Hurd/Fisher/HP scandal a matter of public interest.
Now don’t feel bad for Mark Hurd. In addition to the tens of millions of dollars Hurd has already earned at HP, he is in line for $12.2 million cash in severance payments and another $25 million worth of stock, at today’s prices. Maybe this was just an exit strategy for Hurd. Maybe the truth about his actions was so damming that it was worth it to everyone to pay off Fisher and distance Hurd as fast and far as possible from HP? Maybe we will never know but of this we can be sure, something is rotten at HP.