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Oracle chief executive, Larry Ellison, has levelled a blast against the board of Hewlett-Packard, saying it was wrong to force the resignation of CEO Mark Hurd for cuddling up to a soft port actress who HP labelled a contractor. He compared the board’s action with Apple’s sacking of Steve Jobs in 1985.

In a letter to the New York Times, Ellison – a friend of both Hurd and Jobs – said, “The H-P board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago.”
Hurd left H-P last week – with a golden handshake believed to total almost US$40 million – after contractor Jodie Fisher, a former porn movie performer who helped organise executive events for H-P, made a claim of sexual harassment against him.
The board cleared him of harassment, but found that Hurd had made inaccurate expense reports to conceal a personal relationship with Fisher. By agreeing to resign, Hurd was able to leave with his golden handshake intact.

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Allegations ‘utterly false’
“In losing Mark Hurd, the H-P board failed to act in the best interest of H-P’s employees, shareholders, customers and partners,” Ellison said in his letter. “The H-P board admits that it fully investigated the sexual harassment claims against Mark and found them to be utterly false.”
H-P said Hurd had submitted expense reports that hid his relationship with Fisher. The expenses, which range between $1000 and $20,000, were for meals and travel, and Hurd intends to pay back the amount, a source said. (As well he might, given the $40 million payout. – Ed.)
Apple’s board fired Jobs – co-founder of the company – in 1985 after he clashed with CEO John Sculley, a man he had personally recruited. Jobs returned to the company 12 years later to lead its comeback, building it into the most valuable technology business in the world.

 
Wrote Ellison: “That (1985) decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn’t come back and saved them.”
Since its acquisition of Sun Microsystems early this year, Oracle has become a major rival to H-P in the computing hardware market. But Hurd and Ellison have remained close, and often play tennis at Ellison’s house in Silicon Valley; Jobs is also an occasional visitor.
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