The Mark Hurd soap opera continues as HP has sued to stop his hiring as president of Oracle. Legal wrangling aside, is Hurd the right fit for the Ellison juggernaut? Hurds abilities as a turnaround CEO are unrivaled, but hes a better seller than a builder. Datamations Rob Enderle explains why he thinks former HP CEO, Mark Hurd, is a bad match for Oracle.
At HP (NYSE: HPQ), Mark Hurd was positioned as an executive with operational excellence that exceeded most others. After the fact, we learned that he actually was something quite different. The skill that Hurd demonstrated is more similar to an executive who is expert at packaging companies for sale.
HP wasnt looking to be packaged for sale but Hurd packaged them anyway. He made the firm vastly more valuable to a buyer but stripped out much of HPs R&D and employee loyalty to get it there. In effect to gain short-term advantages, which is consistent with a sale strategy, Hurd traded off long-term success. This showcased Hurd, after the fact, to be the wrong guy for a CEO job at a company that wasnt planning to be sold.
As a turnaround CEO, Hurd could be unmatched, but he would not be the kind of executive you would get if you wanted to build a company rather than sell one.
Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) has a huge problem with Sun Microsystems. The company was failing when Oracle bought it, having tried to switch from a proprietary hardware strategy to an Open Source software strategy and finding the move to be too great to accomplish.
Hurds skill set, which trades off the strategic for the tactical, would have been great at Sun while it was being packaged for sale to Oracle. But it will likely be unsuccessful in the recovery stage it now finds itself in. Key employees will not want to stay with Oracle if they believe that Hurd will mostly cut their benefits, entitlements, and shift their jobs to lower cost locations without them. Attracting qualified employees will even be more difficult and the ones they do get are will likely be in any port in a storm mode and unlikely to be particularly loyal.
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