Mark Hurd, Oracle Co-CEO, Dies at 62
- By John K. Waters
Oracle co-CEO and former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Mark Hurd died last Friday at the age of 62 from unspecified causes.
Larry Ellison, Oracle's CTO and co-founder, announced Hurd's passing in a short tribute on Hurd's personal Web site. Ellison called Hurd a "close and irreplaceable friend and trusted colleague."
"Oracle has lost a brilliant and beloved leader who personally touched the lives of so many of us during his decade at Oracle," Ellison wrote. "All of us will miss Mark's keen mind and rare ability to analyze, simplify and solve problems quickly. Some of us will miss his friendship and mentorship. I will miss his kindness and sense of humor."
Hurd announced in September that he would be taking a medical leave of absence from Oracle to deal with health issues.
"Though we all worked hard together to close the first quarter," he said at the time in a press release, "I've decided that I need to spend time focused on my health...I love Oracle and wish you all success during my absence."
Hurd and Safra Catz were appointed co-CEOs of Oracle in September 2014. Prior to that, Hurd served as CEO of HP from 2005 to 2010 during a period rocked by scandals, including accusations of sexual harassment by a female contract worker. An investigation found that Hurd had not violated HP's code of conduct, but also that he submitted inaccurate expense reports connected to dinners with the contractor after events she helped organize. He resigned on Aug. 6, 2010.
Ellison defended Hurd, who was a friend, during the scandal, calling HP's decision to disclose the harassment claim "cowardly corporate political correctness." In a letter to The New York Times, Ellison said HP's board had "just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago."
Hurd's time at HP also coincided with an infamous spying scandal, in which the company hired private detectives to surveil its own directors and employees, as well as journalists and even Hurd himself, to ferret out sources of news leaks. The private investigators were later sentenced to three years' probation for using false identities to access the Social Security numbers and other information on HP board members, employees and journalists.
HP sued Oracle after Hurd was hired, claiming that its former CEO would be unable to do his job without revealing HP's trade secrets. The companies quickly settled.
"Mark did a brilliant job at HP," Ellison said in a statement at the time, "and I expect he'll do even better at Oracle. 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."
At the time, Catz called Hurd "an outstanding executive and proven winner."
Hurd grew up in New York, but attended high school in Miami. He graduated with a degree in business administration from Baylor University, where he played tennis. At the time of his leave of absence, he served on Baylor's board of regents. He is survived by his wife, Paula, and two daughters.
John has been covering the high-tech beat from Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area for nearly two decades. He serves as Editor-at-Large for Application Development Trends (www.ADTMag.com) and contributes regularly to Redmond Magazine, The Technology Horizons in Education Journal, and Campus Technology. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Everything Guide to Social Media; The Everything Computer Book; Blobitecture: Waveform Architecture and Digital Design; John Chambers and the Cisco Way; and Diablo: The Official Strategy Guide.