A week ago, HP announced the departure of Chairman, CEO, and President Mark Hurd, following an investigation into sexual harassment claims that were later revealed to come from actress and former HP contractor Jodie Fisher.
Hurd allegedly fudged some expense reports connected to the relationship with Fisher. A New York Times article this weekend alleges that that it may be about more than all of that. Joe Nocera writes:
Mr. Hurd’s sudden departure from H.P. can be traced, in truth, to the last time the H.P. board did something shameful. That was the infamous “pretexting” scandal, which burst into public view about a year and a half into Mr. Hurd’s tenure. The essential allegation was that the company, led by its board chairwoman, Patricia C. Dunn, had gone way over the line in investigating a series of damaging leaks, including hiring investigators who used false pretenses to obtain phone records of people suspected of being the leakers.
According to “The Big Lie: Spying, Scandal and Ethical Collapse at Hewlett-Packard,” an authoritative account by the former BusinessWeek writer Anthony Bianco, Mr. Hurd was very involved in H.P.’s efforts to hunt down the leakers. After the scandal broke, he hijacked H.P.’s internal investigation, hiring an outside law firm and ordering it to report directly to him, instead of the board, which is the normal practice.
He goes on to say the company's employees "despised" Hurd, even among top executives. Basically, Nocera's presumption appears to be that the company was looking for a reason to get rid of him.
Either way, shareholders aren't thrilled that they weren't clued in. One has filed a suit against HP's Board for failing to live up to fiduciary responsibilities.