Thursday, August 12, 2010

What Have You Heard About Hurd?

The woman at the heart of the latest Hewlett Packard scandal was the star of this little entertainment feature. This is a family blog so I couldn't even show you the covers of some of her other greatest hits.

The biggest topic of conversation out here in Silicon Valley--and on the business pages of the world at present--is this: what did Hewlett Packard CEO Mark Hurd do, exactly, that got him fired from the largest technology company in the world? There are something like 2.6 Billion shares of HP stock circulating these days and when you multiply that by the minus-seven-dollars-per-share this thing has cost HP stock in the last week, you can imagine that this is more than idle curiosity.

The company says it investigated Hurd's relationship with a woman called Jody Fisher, and concluded there was no sexual harassment, as she originally claimed. And it can't possibly be some kind of mistake he made on his expense reports with regard to Fisher, the disputed amount of which the company says is between $2000-$20,000. That's the kind of cash one local reporter noted that a guy like Hurd "carries in his shoe."

And it wasn't an affair: both the woman involved, her legendary attorney Gloria Allred, and Hurd himself have agreed there was no sexual relationship between Hurd and Fisher (italics mine), whose career as an "actress" has led her to star in such films as "Blood Dolls," "Sheer Passion," and "Body of Influence 2."

And yet, in a company which must have one of the most proficient sales and marketing departments on the planet, this woman says she was hired as an: "Outside consultant ... involved in preparing profiles of customers to help advise Hurd on people he would meet at high level sales meetings."

Gee, one might imagine the President of HP Marketing, not to mention the receptionist at their Palo Alto office who could pull up a guest list on her Compaq, might manage to pull off a feat like that.

But the weird obfuscations just keep on coming. Jody Fisher added that she: "Worked on high level customer and executive summits" held in the U.S. and abroad.

And yet something about her "consulting" and "advising" and her "profiles" at those "summits" was so radioactive it led the HP Board of Directions to settle an undisclosed amount of money on Fisher and use the Nuclear Option on its most successful CEO in many years.

And that is all we know.

With regard to that I will tell you a story about a man I know, called Stephen, a native of China who grew up there during the years of its most strenuous censorship. In one party newspaper, when Stephen was a teenager, he read what was meant to be a derogatory article about how the evil American CIA attempted to garner information about China by reading between the lines of its publications. It said the bungling capitalist spies combed the Chinese press for information left in and left out, for names mentioned and then excluded, for euphemisms used and then abandoned. Ha! Ha! Said the publication. What silly, corrupt Americans!

My friend Stephen was an intelligent fellow (I know this because he got out of Communist China and now runs an entire pavilion at Disney) and said reading this article turned on a light bulb over his head. He thought the CIA sounded pretty smart and from then on he began reading his official Communist China publications in exactly this way. "It is the only way I really learned what was going on in China," he said. I told him that this same device had been of invaluable help to me in deciphering the Washington Post.

So now, I read these words "marketing," "consulting," and "advising Hurd on people he would meet" and put them together with Fisher's background and career and I put them all together in my magic blender and whoosh! Ipso chango! I begin to form a scenario in mind about what happened.

I think is it possible she may even have brought along some friends to these high level sales meetings.

What do you think?

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