It’s not often that my professional world collides with some admittedly questionable personal interests, but last week when news broke that HP CEO Mark Hurd stepped down following a sexual harassment suit filed by a former contestant on a reality television show, I experienced a bit of whiplash.
Because I keep up on gossip rags almost as much as high-tech mags, I realize no industry leader – or government official, athlete or actor – is safe from a sex scandal, but to learn that HP’s chief was leaving for potentially philandering with an employee and not something more related to questionable accounting practices did surprise me some. (Nothing specific to Hurd, but generally high-tech CEOs get caught and punished for being creative with accounting and not necessarily for schmoozing the assistants.)
But as the news unfolded more, inaccurate use of company funds (reportedly totaling around $20,000) was at the root of Hurd’s speedy exodus. Hurd admitted he didn’t act in line with corporate policy and will reportedly get millions to leave HP. The suit filed by Jodie Fisher, an actress who worked for HP as a marketing consultant and who is represented by the infamous Gloria Allred, was reportedly settled before the news hit and after Hurd offered to replenish the misappropriated cash.