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HP vs. Mark Hurd: Did Oracle's Lawyers Spot Legal Loophole?

Sure, Hewlett-Packard has filed suit to stop former CEO Mark Hurd from joining Oracle as co-president. But it's safe to say Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Oracle's legal team closely examined HP's severance agreement with Hurd. Somehow, someway, Ellison believes Hurd can work with Oracle without Hurd violating his severance agreement with HP. Is Ellison right -- yet again?

The VAR Guy

September 7, 2010

2 Min Read
HP vs. Mark Hurd: Did Oracle's Lawyers Spot Legal Loophole?

legal loophole

Sure, Hewlett-Packard has filed suit to stop former CEO Mark Hurd from joining Oracle as co-president. But it’s safe to say Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Oracle’s legal team closely examined HP’s severance agreement with Hurd. Somehow, someway, Ellison believes Hurd can work with Oracle without Hurd violating his severance agreement with HP. Is Ellison right — yet again?

To understand Ellison’s management style and business mindset pick up the book Everyone Else Must Fail: The Unvarnished Truth About Oracle and Larry Ellison. Written by the late Karen Southwick, the 2003 book stands the test of time, tracing Ellison’s penchant for rewriting the rules of business IT.

Ellison Showed His Hand Early

The VAR Guy concedes: When HP fired Hurd, our resident blogger underestimated the potential impact. But Ellison didn’t. Within hours or days of the firing, Ellison wrote an email to the New York Times, stating:

“The H.P. board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago. That decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn’t come back and saved them.”

Plus, the Times noted that:

“Mr. Ellison and Mr. Hurd, meanwhile, have been close personal friends. Both are avid tennis players, and Mr. Hurd often plays at Mr. Ellison’s house in Silicon Valley.”

Now, Hurd and Ellison are looking to play on the same side of the net, serving up one heck of a potential headache for HP. The big question: Is it really legal for Hurd to join Oracle as co-president>?

The Wall Street Journal offers a point-by-point analysis of the HP lawsuit against Hurd. The VAR Guy wonders: As Hurd and Ellison explored Hurd’s potential employment with Oracle, how many hours did Oracle’s lawyers spend looking for competitive loopholes in Hurd’s severance agreement with HP?

Hmmm… Ellison has made some bold moves before: The hostile bid for PeopleSoft. The unexpected bid for Sun Microsystems. But hiring Hurd could be Ellison’s boldest move yet.

Adding to the drama: The Oracle OpenWorld (Sept. 19-23, San Francisco) conference will bring HP Executive VP Ann Livermore onto Oracle’s stage as a guest keynote speaker. The VAR Guy wonders: Will Hurd be there to welcome her?

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