Mark Hurd has been promoted to co-CEO of Oracle, now that Larry Ellison is ending his 37-year-long CEO reign.
This is Hurd’s’ third time at the top of the org chart. He was previously CEO of NCR Corp. after a 25-year career there. Then he spent five years as CEO of HP, from 2005 – 2010, a stint that ended in a scandal and Hurd’s resignation.
Hurd was asked to resign after he was accused of inappropriately submitting corporate expense reports over a relationship with a female contractor. He left with a severance package worth $US50 million.
At the time, Ellison famously came to Hurd’s defence writing an email to the New York Times denouncing HP’s decision:
“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.
Ellison was not at all concerned about Hurd’s private life or expense reports. Ellison admired Hurd as a businessman.
And Hurd definitely has game. He’s known to have a brilliant mind for figures, like a human spreadsheet, able to calculate columns of numbers in his head.
Still, his tenure at HP was rocky for other reasons. Hurd is known as a cost-management guy, which was good for HP at first. The company’s revenues and profits grew significantly when he was at the helm, helped by $US24.3 billion in acquisitions.
But Hurd’s cost-cutting grew extreme, and according to some HP employees, it eventually hurt the company.
When Hurd left HP he had only 34% CEO approval rating from his employees, Glassdoor reports.
As a Hewlett-Packard Software Engineer (Houston, TX) noted at the time, “You need to replace the CEO with someone who have a vision for growth for our company not someone who only cuts costs.”
Hurd’s signature deal at HP was the $US13.2 billion acquisition of EDS in 2008, which never really flourished. A couple of years after he left, HP CEO Meg Whitman wrote off $US8 billion of that acquisition.
His work at Oracle hasn’t been without controversy, either. Ellison loves him for his ability to manage Oracle’s huge sprawling businesses, sources have told us. But Hurd also immediately set about overhauling Oracle’s legendary sales force, hiring 4,000 more salespeople, restructuring quotas to boost hardware sales, and changing territories. It was a rocky transition, and some Oracle salespeople complained, while others left, they told us.
The proof of this plan was supposed to be in the pudding. After a couple of stagnant quarters, Oracle did return to growth, though it is still missing Wall Street’s expectations more than it is meeting them.
Not all of that can be laid at Hurd and the sales force’s feet. Oracle, like its competitors, is going through the transition from selling software to offering cloud-computing services, and these kinds of changes take time and affect revenues in the short term.
The Oracle CEO role will be different for Hurd because he’s sharing it with Oracle’s former CFO Safra Catz. It’s really just a change in title, though, not a change in responsibility.
As Oracle’s president, Hurd was already handling all sales, service, and industry-specific business units, and he still will. Catz was previously running all manufacturing, finance, and legal functions and still will. As CTO, Ellison will still run all software and hardware engineering functions.
In fact, Ellison even said he’s still going to attend the quarterly analyst conference calls, same as always, drawing a laugh from the Wall Street analysts on the call.
“Mark and Safra have worked closely with Larry for a long time, doing a lot of executive duties anyhow,” Bill Kreher, technology analyst for Edward Jones, told Business Insider. “This is Larry’s way of giving them proper recognition for all the work they have done and letting them know they have got long-term job security. He’s not out looking for the next CEO outside of Oracle. It’s clearly something he’s thought a lot about.”
In terms of Hurd’s personal interests, he is passionate about tennis. He attended Baylor University on a tennis scholarship and is a big supporter of the university and its tennis program. After a big donation from Hurd, Baylor named its revamped tennis complex in his honour.
He and his wife live in one of the Valley’s most prestigious neighborhoods, Atherton, California. His neighbours include Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, Google’s Eric Schmidt, and, ironically enough, current HP CEO Meg Whitman.
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