updated 01:15 am EDT, Sat November 6, 2010
HP's Hurd leaked secrets pre-exit
HP's recently departed CEO Mark Hurd may have revealed still-secret deals to his accuser Jodie Fisher, a pair of leaks divulged Friday night. In addition to the core claims that Hurd sexually harassed Fisher, a letter from Fisher's attorney alleged that he revealed HP's plans to acquire the enterprise service company EDS in March 2008, two months before it was made public. The leak could have been illegal if Fisher had spread the information to people who could trade on it, the WSJ said, although this doesn't appear to have happened.
The leaks also provided much more detail as to the nature of the initial allegations. Fisher and Hurd were said in the letter to have met in as diverse a set of cities as Atlanta, St. Louis, San Diego, Madrid, Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, Chicago, Beverly Hills and Tokyo. Hurd was at many of the events, but in San Diego and a few other cases there was no event to justify any business reasons for the trips.
A representative for Hurd insisted that there wasn't any sexual conduct, but Hurd had said that he and Fisher watched TV in a Boise, Idaho hotel room yet slept in different rooms afterwards. He also purportedly visited adult sites to look at movies from Fisher's stint in the business He was found to have covered up dinners with Fisher by claiming that he had dined with his security guard.
Executives were split over the facts once they became clear through the letter, the sources slipped out. In overnight meetings between July 28 and July 29 this year, most had opted to disclose the details with two worried about the problems a forced Hurd exit could cause. The CEO staunchly opposed a disclosure and tried to keep his job but was eventually pressured into making a rapid exit with only a small portion of what happened reaching the public before this weekend. Hurd had reached a settlement with Fisher and her lawyers just two days before the departure was made official.
How many of the claims were true, including the EDS leak, is no longer clear. Fisher in a follow-up letter said there were "many inaccuracies" in her first letter but didn't name them. The message primarily lifted any responsibility from HP and claimed that Hurd's behavior hadn't impacted his company's performance.
Regardless of the events, their results have created one of the largest upheavals in HP's history. Former SAP chief Leo Apotheker took over and may signal a shift more towards enterprise software at HP. Hurd ended up joining database veteran Oracle and sparked a brief lawsuit that could have pitted the frequent allies against each other.