In what is becoming a never-ending drama, newly anointed Hewlett-Packard Chairman Ray Lane is calling former chairman, president and CEO Mark Hurd on the carpet. Lane says Hurd "repeatedly lied" to HP's board during the investigation into accusations of sexual harassment against him.
The new accusations come just as the dust was beginning to settle on the high-tech high drama between Oracle and HP. High points of the drama include Hurd's forced resignation from HP, followed by a letter to The New York Times from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison bashing HP for dismissing his friend.
The drama continued to stir after Ellison hired Hurd as the company's new co-president, followed by an HP lawsuit against Oracle for the move, and an eventual settlement and reassurance that Hurd would not disclose any HP trade secrets to Oracle. It seems an Oct. 8 New York Times column got Lane's goat and reopened the drama.
The Times column explored HP's decision to appoint Léo Apotheker CEO and Hurd's successor. Apotheker spent most of his career at SAP, which competes head-on with Oracle. It may have seemed like a slap in Oracle's face -- and may have been intended that way -- though some analysts see Apotheker as a strong choice in a hardware world where software is increasingly important.
"Is it possible that the hiring of Mr. Apotheker was motivated by the board's desire to strike back at Oracle? And that, with Mr. Apotheker on board, HP would try to encroach on Oracle's software stronghold just as Oracle was moving into HP's hardware arena? There are analysts who are convinced that was the case," New York Times columnist Joe Nocera wrote on Friday.
Lane has insisted publicly that such notions are untrue. And that's when the accusations came. Lane wrote a letter to the Times that stated, "Mr. Hurd violated the trust of the board by repeatedly lying to them in the course of an investigation into his conduct." Neither HP nor Oracle were immediately available for comment.
The SAP Sideshow
Now news has emerged that Oracle plans to call Apotheker to testify in its lawsuit against SAP. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apotheker has been named a witness. Lane also spoke out about that decision: "It didn't even deem him relevant enough to the case to include him on a list of witnesses for trial -- until, that is, Mr. Apotheker was named CEO of HP and Oracle had other motives to try to tie him to the case."
Oracle filed suit against SAP in 2007, alleging copyright infringement by an SAP subsidiary named TomorrowNow. SAP shuttered TomorrowNow in 2008, and in August agreed not to fight the allegations. SAP agreed to pay restitution to Oracle, but still plans to offer evidence disputing Oracle's claim to $1 billion in damages. SAP and Oracle were not immediately available for comment.
IDC analyst Al Hilwa would like to see the drama between HP, Oracle and SAP end. "The sooner all this dies down, the better it is for the collective customers of HP and Oracle, and certainly their joint customers," Hilwa said. "I don't think this is something that customers need to pay attention to or should care much about. They should look at he technologies, the road maps, the way the products are marketed, and leave much of this mudslinging and bickering to the media."
Posted: 2010-10-12 @ 8:25pm PT
Hurd has displayed a “mercineary” attitude towards work & ethics. After having been the CEO at HP & having driven the message of ethics, compliance & cost cutting relentlessly across the board – the HP accusation of his having “mis-spent” company monies & then Hurd going on to joining Oracle – just smacks of double standards & hypocracy!!