Oracle's Ellison takes HP to task over ouster of CEO Hurd

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison sent an impassioned e-mail to The New York Times Monday, criticizing the HP board for their move to dismiss CEO Mark Hurd following an investigation into sexual harassment claims. While those claims have been disproven, it uncovered other questionable behavior surrounding his relationship with the claimant.

Hurd apparently falsified expense reports in order to conceal his relationship. This in turn was a violation of the company's code of conduct, which in turn led the board to ask for his resignation. Ellison focused on the sexual harassment claim, only briefly mentioning the board's actual reason for dismissal in his letter.

"The HP board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago," Ellison wrote. "That decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn't come back and saved them."

Ellison is a friend of Hurd's, which may have something to do with his reasoning for taking to the NYT to defend him. However at the same time, it does bring back up questions on Ellison's own personal conduct, which has not always been so sanguine.

Once referred to by The Washington Post as the "Lothario of the pocket-protector set," Ellison has been the target of at least one sexual harassment case -- which was ruled in his favor -- and has been known to have his own inter-office relations.

Furthermore, Oracle may have different standards for personal conduct: its president Charles Phillips was able to stay in management following the admission this year of an eight-year affair.

Some employees of HP have also expressed outrage at the board's decision to provide Hurd with a substantial severance package, saying non-management would have been fired for a similar offense without any compensation, Glenn Hall writes for TheStreet.com.

"There can be no double standard. Leaders must lead by example. They must hold themselves to the highest standards of corporate conduct," he argued. He also took issue with Ellison's characterization of the firing, saying Hurd had done enough to undermine his ability to lead the company.

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