Culling the Herd: HP Loses Its CEO

Groan. HP's hyper competent CEO Mark Hurd, who brought the company back from the post-Fiorina doldrums, has resigned due to "sexual harassment"
Hewlett-Packard Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Mark Hurd has resigned in the wake of a sexual-harassment investigation

The investigation began after an unidentified outside contractor revealed to H-P that she had had a close personal relationship with Mr. Hurd at a time she was providing marketing services to the company, said H-P general counsel Michael Holston in a conference call with reporters.

The company said the probe revealed that Mr. Hurd had filed "numerous" inaccurate expense reports. The company didn't reveal the nature or amount of the inaccurate reports, but Mr. Holston said some payments made to the contractor were questionable.

H-P said the probe found there was no violation of the computer giant's sexual-harassment policy, "but did find violations of H-P's standards of business conduct."

Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak will be interim CEO. She has been with the company 24 years and financial chief since January 2007.

Now, details are sketchy, and this story is just breaking, but...we're all adults here. There was no "sexual harassment" worth investigating. There was a short affair between Hurd and an HP vendor, and Hurd compounded that wrong by apparently filing some improper expense reports, presumably for 4-star hotel rooms, and negligees. Don't try to dress this up as some kind of "sexual harassment" controversy. I'm not ready for Nineties nostalgia.

HP has struggled with keeping its CEO chair filled. Carly Fiorina famously lost her job after the disastrous Compaq merger. Hurd's predecessor Patricia Dunn resigned after ordering company PI's to spy on journalists, and even some HP board members. Hurd had seemed like a breath of fresh air, someone who looked after the basics: the bottom line and product development. Now he's gone in a blaze of personal stupidity and politically correct neo-puritanism.

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