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Mike Hurd (CEO): HP

Why this quit is big: Hurd was lauded by Wall Street and industry analysts for HP’s financial and marketing success during his 5-year tenure. Most observers thought he succeeded as a master of restructuring, helping to grow the complex $100+ billion company. Hurd made a series of major acquisitions, including a $13.2 billion reverse merger of EDS. Other acquisitions helped HP expand into businesses that generate wider profit margins. HP is now a formidable #2 in the computer service behind IBM. Within a year of becoming CEO, HP overtook industry-leader Dell in PC sales. In 2010, Hurd moved HP into a very competitive position in networking equipment (mainly against Cisco) in acquiring 3Com. Lastly, Hurd’s ascendance to become Oracle’s Co-CEO with Larry Ellison is already shaking the much heralded 25 year, 140,000 client HP-Oracle strategic partnership.

Why it’s not as big as our Top 10: HP made the right moves in escorting Hurd to the door. Despite his apparent success, Hurd was forced to resign amidst a sexual-harassment investigation with a marketing contractor. Though cleared of sexual-harassment claims, HP’s board revealed that Hurd violated HP’s Standards of Business Conduct in falsifying expense reports and other financial documents to cover up the relationship and even pay Ms. Fisher for work she never did. On the business side, Hurd’s critics claimed he began to harm HP’s innovative spirit by constantly reducing R&D investment to meet corporate bottom-line goals. [Ed Note: Mike Hurd appeared on Retensa’s Biggest Quits List 2005 when he departed NCR after 25 years]

Sherman, Eric. “Mark Hurd Starts Sweating: HP’s Reason for Dumping Him May Come Out.” 8 November, 2010.