Eye on Oracle

Aug 11 2010   2:24PM GMT

Oracle’s Larry Ellison defends his tennis buddy Mark Hurd

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Tech media has been ablaze the past few days with the news of Mark Hurd, who resigned as CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co. due to some alleged transgressions, including an extramarital affair with a contractor and misleading expense reports.

As it turns out, that news might not affect the business of IT; that is, server buyers don’t plan on punishing HP for the Hurd gaffes. Nonetheless, the CEO of one of the biggest IT companies in the world is going to cause a few ripples, and anything sordid or resembling sordid makes it that much juicier.

After an investigation, the HP board of directors suggested (read: forced) Hurd to resign. It was a move that another tech giant, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, found appalling.

“The H.P. board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs  many years ago,” Ellison wrote in an email to The New York Times. “That decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn’t come back and saved them.”

As it turns out, Ellison is good friends with Hurd. According to the Times story, the two are both “avid tennis players, and Mr. Hurd often plays at Mr. Ellison’s house in Silicon Valley.” Oh. So Ellison is defending the honor of his tennis buddy? That’s cute.

According to the Bloomberg story, Hurd submitted receipts for expenses ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 over two years that should have been labeled as personal. Fudging a few numbers on your mileage reimbursement is one thing; using the company dime to wine and dine some chick you’re sleeping around with is another. That is, if that’s what the case was.

But sometimes you just have to think of it from Ellison’s and Hurd’s perspectives. They get paid tens of millions of dollars every year. Ellison is one of the richest people in the world. To them, $20,000 is pocket change.

Hurd will also receive tens of millions of dollars in a severance package. And now that he’s no longer CEO of HP, I’m guessing he might be visiting Ellison at his house in Silicon Valley a bit more often. Tennis anyone?

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