First came the late Friday press release, in which HP announced that its CEO Mark Hurd had resigned, following a claim of sexual harassment by a former contractor to the company. Now comes a New York Times report that it was Hurd's settlement with the alleged victim that set off a chain of events that lead to his resignation.
An investigation into the matter determined there was no violation of HP's sexual harassment policy but did lead investigators to conclude that Hurd had violated parts of the company's Standards of Business Conduct policy, excerpted (right).
Specifically, investigators reportedly found several improper payments from the fall of 2007 to the fall of 2009 in amounts from $1,000 to $20,000 to a woman hired to greet people and make introductions among executives attending HP events that she helped organize, the Associated Press reports. Sources also told the New York Times that the woman attended events in the U.S., Europe, and Asia and that Hurd often dined alone with the woman. Hurd also reportedly falsified expense reports to hide the woman's identity.
It was the same woman who later claimed sexual harassment, settled with Hurd, and set off events that lead to his resignation. Hurd, 53, who is married, has denied a sexual relationship. The details of the alleged settlement are still unclear, though go-to lawyer for matters such as these and attorney for the unnamed woman, Gloria Allred, told the Times, "We want to make clear that there was no affair and no intimate sexual relationship between our client and Mr. Hurd."
In the interim, Hurd will be replaced by CFO Cathie Lesjak. Here's Hurd in his own words:
As the investigation progressed, I realized there were instances in which I did not live up to the standards and principles of trust, respect and integrity that I have espoused at HP and which have guided me throughout my career. After a number of discussions with members of the board, I will move aside and the board will search for new leadership. This is a painful decision for me to make after five years at HP, but I believe it would be difficult for me to continue as an effective leader at HP and I believe this is the only decision the board and I could make at this time. I want to stress that this in no way reflects on the operating performance or financial integrity of HP.
It's likely an obituary for Hurd's career. Since joining the company in early 2005, Hurd has helped HP's revenue grow more 40% to $114 billion, and oversaw the $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm. In June, Hurd also announced a plan to lay off 9,000 workers over a three-year period. He earned more than $24 million last year in salary and bonuses and was said to be in talks to sign a new three-year contract worth $100 million.
Following the Friday resignation, he was said to have received a severance package worth $28 million in cash and stock.
"Every time we threw Mark out the window he landed on his feet," said NCR head Gilbert Williamson, who worked with Hurd for years, in a 2009 profile.