Computer software giant Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL) made a smart move by hiring ex-CEO of Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) Mark Hurd as co-president.
Oracle Corporation's Headquarters in Redwood Shores, CA
Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems (a computer software and hardware company, made famous by it’s development of Java) earlier this year for $7.4 billion. This acquisition is Oracle’s first foray into the computer hardware and components business, which can be a reason for concern given operations on such a large scale. However, this is where Mark Hurd comes in. Hardware is what Hurd knows. Having served as HP’s CEO for nearly four years, Hurd’s knowledge of the hardware industry will prove pivotal in Oracle’s success in this new venture. In a statement he made Monday, Hurd stated how he believes that “Oracle’s strategy of combining software with hardware will enable [it] to beat IBM (NYSE:IBM) in both enterprise servers and storage.”
Mark Hurd, ex-CEO of Hewlett-Packard
While we’re on the topic of Hurd’s depart from HP, let’s look a little deeper. What does Mark Hurd’s resumé look like? After working his way up through the ranks at NCR Corporation (NYSE:NCR) for twenty-three years, he served as CEO for two years. His time at NCR gave him a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge of the IT industry.
After leaving NCR, Hurd served as an excellent CEO at HP, drastically increasing it’s market share in computers, laptops and printers, while implementing tough cost-cutting tactics, resulting in a very lean and profitable operation. Recent sexual-harrasment allegations and scandal surrounding misleading expense reports are the reported reasons for HP letting Hurd go, although it is also probable that his reputation as a “cost-cutter” left distaste in the mouths of both rank-and-file employees, and board members. While making these cuts (which included jobs and remaining workers’ annual compensation), Hurd himself took home total compensation in excess of $24 million for 2009 alone. It is believed that the expense report and sexual-harassment issues were just pretexts the board used to fire Hurd.
Meanwhile, Oralce, which, as I said earlier, recently acquired Sun Microsystems, was ready to begin shifting its focus from only software, to manufacturing the hardware that would run its already popular and widely-used software. To date, Oracle and HP have been a pair, Oralce providing the software that runs on HP’s hardware. Now, looking to enter the hardware arena for itself, Oracle needs to gain market share in a market dominated by two other companies: IBM and HP. From Oracle’s perspective, were Hurd to join the team, it would be much better-equipped to fight HP in the years to come.
Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle
Oracle CEO, and world-renouned gazillionare, Larry Ellison commented on HP’s decision to let Hurd go: “The HP board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago. That decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn’t come back and saved them.” Ellison really made it a point to publicly criticize HP’s actions, raising suspicion that there may be a job offering for Hurd at Oracle. This speculation turned out to be true. “Mark did a brilliant job at HP and I expect he’ll do even better at Oracle,” Ellison said. “There is no executive in the IT world with more relevant experience than Mark. Oracle’s future is engineering complete and integrated hardware and software systems for the enterprise. Mark pioneered the integration of hardware with software when Teradata was a part of NCR.”
It’s painfully obvious that HP’s decision will cost them. Oracle will continue to become a larger force in the IT industry, taking on HP and IBM. As Raymond James analyst Michael Turits put it, “HP’s loss is Oracle’s gain in our view, and in particular a gain that should help dent the bear case that Oracle will have trouble becoming a hardware company following the Sun acquisition.”
Analysts’ opinions on Oracle suggest that the stock is not currently over-valued, prompting a buy to strong buy recommendation from nearly all analysts following the company. I am eagerly anticipating future news from Redwood Shores regarding new developments in pulling together the acquisition and new operational modifications/expansions. I will be keeping an eye on Oracle in the coming months.
Among the reasons I listed for HP’s vote to force Hurd to resign is the popular (even cited by Larry Ellison) notion that HP didn’t want to have to deal with a “bogus” sexual-harrasment suit, and it would create bad publicity for HP.