Ellison's Tarnished Legacy: Hiring Hurd

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More than one account of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's recent hiring of ousted Hewlett-Packard chief Mark Hurd began with the words, "as expected." Well, I certainly didn't expect it. I didn't think even Ellison would slap his employees in the face that dismissively.


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In my post, "Why Ellison's Defense of Mark Hurd Is Nonsense," I challenged Ellison's ridiculous statement to The New York Times that Hurd is "one of Silicon Valley's best and most respected leaders. I explained my reasoning this way:

There are certain qualities that a person absolutely must have to be a good leader, and the two qualities at the very top of that list are truthfulness and respect for the people under one's leadership. If either is missing, none of a leader's other qualities really matter. And unfortunately, Hurd lacks them both.

An HP employee who commented on that post expressed a sentiment that we now know, based on information that flooded the blogosphere after Hurd's forced resignation, was widespread at HP:

Yes! Thank you. Every time I saw Hurd speak to the employees he came across just as you described - arrogant and disdainful -- and he was rightly despised by the rank and file in HP. Good riddance. Let Larry hire him if he likes him so much.

Well, Larry did just that, and it's a shame. As I wrote in my post, "The HP Board's Inexcusable Delay in Getting Rid of Hurd," Hurd had the lowest employee approval rating of any major tech company CEO, and an HP employee survey found that more than two-thirds of HP's employees would quit if they could find an equivalent job somewhere else.

That Ellison would subject his employees to that kind of non-leadership is especially troubling when you consider that Hurd is now the likely successor to Ellison, who's getting on in years and probably is more than ready to sail off into the sunset. Clearly Hurd, who walked away from HP with tens of millions of dollars despite his missteps, hardly has to work to maintain his cushy lifestyle, and it's highly unlikely that after being top gun at the world's largest technology company, he would have accepted a co-president role at Oracle if Ellison hadn't given him some assurance that Larrydom would soon be his to rule.

If Hurd does assume the throne, there's no reason not to believe that he'll do the same thing at Oracle that he did at HP: decimate the rank-and-file work force while positioning himself and his cronies to receive outrageous compensation packages. There's little Ellison could have done to tarnish his legacy more.