HP's sex scandal: Obscene and not Hurd

Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd taken down by a sex scandal? Next we'll find out that Steve Jobs is really a woman

It's usually other industries that get all the sex scandals. Politics, sports, entertainment -- hardly a week goes by without someone getting their dangle in a mangle. But high tech? Not so much.

Finally, our long, painful drought is over.

By now, you've probably heard about Mark Hurd and HP. No matter what you think about him, you have to admire his chutzpah. It isn't everybody who gets to run the world's largest PC maker for five years, wine and dine a private contractor for two of them on his company's dime, resign in disgrace, and walk away with $12 million and health benefits.

Is this a great country or what?

As I write this, blogfiends are surely on the hunt for the name (and more important, pictures) of the marketing temptress that brought Hurd down. Because otherwise, all they have to report is what everyone else has reported, to wit:

Hurd did not get shown the door for hot-docking with an outside contractor for two years. Nor was he found guilty of sexual harassment, or of trying to bed every Hooters waitress within a 5,000-mile radius, or of hiring "contractors" from Craigslist's Adult Services section. No, Hurd got the boot because he played "defrag my hard drive" with some saucy lass and tried to cover it up by filing bogus expense reports.

Per liveblog of the HP media call:

HP is saying that Mark Hurd had a close personal relationship with a contractor who was hired by the office of the CEO, and there were numerous instances of reimbursement where there was not a legitimate business interest for HP. Mark also submitted inaccurate expense reports to conceal his relationship with the contractor, and that violated HP's standards of business conduct.

So, to recap: Diddling a private contractor isn't ideal, but still within the realm of marginally acceptable behavior. Fudging your expense reports? That's not the HP way. Yer outta here.

(For the record, the attorney for the marketing temptress maintains that Hurd did not have sexual relations with her client. No word yet whether there's a blue dress with Hurd's DNA on it hanging in her closet.)

HP did its best to bury this story using the time-honored tradition of releasing it at the very end of the day on a Friday when half the world is drunk or on vacation. And if HP could have held out til the Labor Day weekend, I'm sure it would have.

But this is not the traditional media world any more, this is the 24/7 blogging world. So the blogosphere gets to spend all weekend retelling the Hurd story instead of making up rumors about Apple.

It's too bad about Hurd. It seemed like HP had regained its mojo after the Carly Fiorina follies. Now it's in the market for a new CEO. I don't know what high-level headhunters it's been using, but after the Fiorina fiasco and the Hurd hottie meltdown, I think maybe they ought to consider a switch.

Should Hurd have resigned? Which high-tech exec will be ensnared in the next sex scandal? E-mail me at cringe@infoworld.com.

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Robert X. Cringely

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