Jodie Fisher 'Saddened' Over HP CEO Mark Hurd's Resignation
Jodie Fisher, a 50-year-old former actress and reality TV star, knew Hurd while working as a marketing consultant for HP. From 2007 to 2009, she regularly made the rounds at HP events that she'd helped to organize, often introducing the CEO to clients, and keeping him company. Somewhere along the line, though, their relationship allegedly took a turn for the inappropriate, leading Fisher to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against the 53-year-old executive.
An internal corporate investigation revealed that Hurd frequently listed different dinner partners on expense reports for events he'd actually attended with Fisher, and that he found ways to pay the consultant for jobs she hadn't done. Although the investigation didn't prove that Hurd violated the company's sexual harassment policy, the damage he did to HP's credibility and integrity was apparently enough to warrant his resignation. Fisher's suit, meanwhile, was settled on Thursday for an undisclosed sum, a few hours before Hurd stepped down. "I was surprised and saddened that Mark Hurd lost his job over this," Fisher said in a statement. "That was never my intention."
Thus ends what the New York Times calls "one of the great executive runs in recent American business history." Since taking the reins from Carly Fiorina in 2005, Hurd tightened HP's wobbly ship by cutting costs and devoting more capital to targeted acquisitions. During his five-year tenure, the company's market value nearly doubled, and Hurd quickly became something of a Wall Street celebrity.
With Hurd gone, however, HP must now find a way to reassure investors who suddenly seem uncertain about the company's stability. As news of Hurd's resignation permeated the markets on Friday, HP's share price plummeted by nearly 10-percent. HP brass, meanwhile, are insisting that the company's strategic DNA remains unchanged. "The bottom line is, the HP brand is strong," interim CEO Cathie Lesjak said during a conference call with reporters. "One thing happened in this company on Friday - that is the CEO left. The rest of the company did not change." [From: New York Times and AP]