In a detailed new report exploring the long history and questionable future of HP, BusinessWeek is sharing previously unpublished information about the lengths Steve Jobs was willing to go to in order to help former HP boss Mark Hurd return to the company from which he was practically excommunicated.
Having been forced to resign by HP’s board in 2010, Hurd was embroiled in a controversy stemming back to claims he committed sexual harassment at work. They were claims that Hurd adamantly denied. But the board still wanted him out, likely for different reasons that could be concealed within the context of the harassment accusations.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison called Hurd’s removal from HP as “the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago.” Ironically, within days of his departure at HP, Hurd received an e-mail from Steve Jobs who "wanted to know if Hurd needed someone to talk to." Jobs, after all, knew what bad decisions boards were capable of making.
Hurd subsequently met Jobs at his home in Palo Alto, California. During the visit, Jobs implored Hurd to patch things up with the board and not let his ouster be permanent. "Jobs even offered to write a letter to HP’s directors and to call them up one by one," the report reads.
By offering Hurd counsel, Jobs wasn’t merely lending a friend psychological support. Rather, he was going to bat for the legacy of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. A healthy HP, Jobs urged, was essential to a healthy Silicon Valley.