In a Bloomberg Businessweek article this week, writers Ashlee Vance and Aaron Ricadela reveal a conversation between former HP CEO Mark Hurd and Steve Jobs that had not been previously disclosed. That article asks whether or not current HP CEO Meg Whitman can save the company that once ruled Silicon Valley but is now seemingly free-falling towards oblivion.
Hurd was the CEO of HP between 2006 and 2010, and under his guidance the company became the leader in both PC sales and printer market share. In 2010, Hurd resigned under suspicion of a sexual harassment allegation and under pressure from a board of directors described as "dysfunctional." Almost immediately, HP's share prices began to fall.
Jobs was concerned that the HP board had used the allegation to push Hurd out, a move Oracle CEO and Jobs friend Larry Ellison described as "the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple Board fired Steve Jobs many years ago." Jobs invited Hurd to his home, and the two talked while Jobs took Hurd on one of his customary long walks.
To quote the Bloomberg Businessweek article, "At numerous points during their conversation, Jobs pleaded with Hurd to do whatever it took to set things right with the board so that Hurd could return. Jobs even offered to write a letter to HP's directors and to call them up one by one...By offering Hurd counsel, Jobs wasn't merely lending a friend psychological support. Rather, he was going to bat for the legacy of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. A healthy HP, Jobs urged, was essential to a healthy Silicon Valley."
The entire article is a fascinating read about a tech company that has lost its spark and a cautionary tale for any company about how quickly fortunes can change.