Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hurd mentality

Noting Dell’s problems with its commodity business model, on Aug 19 I wrote:

If they need a commodity IT turnaround specialist, I know just the guy: Mark Hurd. He’s turned around two companies already — NCR and HP — and now finds himself unexpectedly with time on his hands.
On Sunday night, the FT (and a herd of other news outlets) reported:
Oracle’s board will meet within days to vote on a deal to bring Mark Hurd to the company in a top role, marking a rapid corporate rehabilitation for the ousted Hewlett-Packard chief executive.

Mr Hurd is unlikely to win the title of chief executive, which has been held since 1977 by Larry Ellison, Oracle’s founder and chairman, who owns about a quarter of the database software giant. But almost any position would represent a coup for Mr Hurd after HP’s board forced him to quit the company he had led for five years.
One fit is obvious. As the FT notes, Ellison himself stood up for Hurd after HP forced out its CEO on Aug. 6:
Mr Ellison is personally close to Mr Hurd and has supported him in public comments, calling his dismissal “the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago”.
However, the more important fit is that Hurd revitalized a portfolio of mature, no-growth businesses by slashing costs, people and morale — executing on the imperfectly realized vision of Carly Fiorina.

If you want someone to find short-term efficiencies in a mature 21 tech firm, Hurd’s your man. (We have no evidence either way as to their effects on long-term competitiveness.)

Presumably Oracle poses less non-compete problems than Hurd would have faced going to Dell (not that Michael Dell was going to bring in another ego as big as his own.)

But this presumably would be a negative for Oracle employees, who have already faced considerable cuts after the acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Update, Monday 9:30pm: Hurd has been named as one of two Oracle co-presidents — replacing Charles Phillips — and reporting to CEO Larry Ellison.

No comments: