Mark Hurd, CEO of Oracle, dies
He was also chief at NCR and Hewlett-Packard
Oracle CEO Mark Hurd has died.
Most recently Hurd was co-CEO at Oracle with Safra Catz where he focused on sales, marketing and press and investor relations, while she ran finances and legal matters. Oracle announced on September 11th that Hurd had begun a leave of absence for unspecified health-related reasons and that Ms Catz and Oracle chairman Larry Ellison would assume his responsibilities during his leave. The company didn’t disclose a cause of death Friday.
Mr Hurd began his career in 1980 as a salesman for National Cash Register (now NCR), before rising in the ranks to the CEO post. In 2005, he was hired away as CEO by Hewlett-Packard, then the world’s biggest personal computer maker. Hurd joined Oracle as a co-president in 2010, after resigning from HP following a sexual-harassment probe. While an internal investigation didn’t find a violation of the company’s sexual-harassment policy, it concluded that he violated company standards by filing inaccurate expense reports to conceal a personal relationship with a contractor.
During his Oracle tenure, Hurd produced solid revenue and profits as company’s stock price hit a historic high in 2019. He was also a key driver in Oracle’s turn from an old model of licensing software toward the use of cloud computing, a burgeoning business dominated by rivals Amazon. com and Microsoft.
When he hired Hurd, Mr Ellison said, “There is no executive in the IT world with more relevant experience than Mark.”
Mr Ellison described Hurd’s dismissal by HP as the “worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs. ”
Hurd reshaped Oracle’s salesforce. Beginning in 2013, he implemented a “specialist” model that made each member an expert in a single product category. In that year alone, he hired more than 4,000 people to implement his idea.
He also created the “Class of” programme that was designed to inject a startup feel into Oracle. College graduates were hired for a dedicated programme that prepared them to become Oracle’s future sales leaders.
In 2014, Hurd and Ms Catz were named co-CEOs, while Ellison continued to serve as chairman of the board, orchestrate management changes and develop products as chief technology officer.
Hurd was regarded as the most media-friendly of the trio, frequently serving as the public face of the company to outline its goals. At the time Hurd and Ms Catz were named CEOs, Oracle’s central business was selling software designed to run on gear owned by the customer and charging a license fee.
Hurd was among those inside Oracle who saw the company’s future in cloud computing – which would let customers rent software and run their data on servers owned by vendors such as Oracle. He predicted in 2015 that by 2025 all enterprise data would be stored in the cloud and that 100 per cent of software development and testing would run through it.
Hurd was also a drastic cost cutter who was responsible for firing thousands of workers when he first took over as HP’s CEO and laying off thousands more after the $13.9 billion (€12.47 billion) purchase in 2008 of a struggling EDS, a move many investors disliked.
Still, under Hurd’s tenure, HP increased profits for 22 straight quarters, while its revenue rose about 60 per cent and its stock price doubled, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. He also helped HP surpass International Business Machines as the largest computer maker by sales.
There were some dark moments at HP too. In 2006, it was disclosed that Hurd had helped launch an investigation into internal leaks from the company’s board.
Outside security consultants conducted surveillance on a journalist and HP board member, and used a subterfuge to acquire phone and fax records for HP employees, board members and journalists. The California attorney general’s office opened a criminal probe into possible privacy violations, and HP’s chairwoman at the time, Patricia Dunn, resigned her post when the scandal broke.
For his part, Hurd defended the need to investigate company leakers, but claimed he didn’t know about the investigators’ tawdry tactics because he’d ducked out of a briefing on the investigation and, several months later, ignored a verbal and written summary of the leak probe.
After Hurd was ousted following the sexual harassment probe in 2010, HP discontinued making smartphones and its tablet computer. Eventually it split into two companies, one focused on personal computers and printers and the other on software and services.
Despite navigating several scandals, Hurd was lauded by the industry. In 2007, he was named one of Fortune magazine’s 25 most powerful business leaders. In 2008, the San Francisco Chronicle named Hurd CEO of the Year.
Hurd served on a number of corporate boards and was a Baylor University trustee since 2014.
He was married to the former Paula Kalupa in 1990. They had two daughters, Kathryn and Kelly.