By Ben Worthen, Joann S. Lublin And Robert A. Guth
Mark Hurd, who resigned as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co. last month, is in talks to join Oracle Corp. as a top executive, people familiar with the matter said.
The exact nature of Mr. Hurd's new job couldn't be learned. The people familiar with the matter cautioned that talks weren't complete and it was possible Mr. Hurd's hiring could still fall through. Oracle's board still needs to approve any appointment, they added.
Larry Ellison, who founded Oracle more than 30 years ago and has been the company's only CEO, won't vacate the CEO seat, one of the people said.
The move caps a wild month for Mr. Hurd, 53 years old, who was widely considered one of corporate America's most successful executives before he resigned from H-P in early August following allegations of sexual harassment by a former marketing contractor.
An investigation by H-P's board found that Mr. Hurd didn't violate the company's sexual-harassment policy, but did find that he violated H-P's code of business conduct, such as filing inaccurate expense reports. Over the course of the investigation, Mr. Hurd's relationship with H-P's board of directors deteriorated to the point where both sides decided that it was best to separate, people familiar with the matter said.
If Mr. Hurd lands at Oracle, he would join a company that has increasingly been stepping on some of H-P's turf. Oracle, which makes enterprise software, is almost as profitable as H-P-earning $6.1 billion in its most recent fiscal year compared with $7.7 billion for H-P-but has only about one quarter the revenue and one third the employees. The company has expanded its portfolio of software products through a string of acquisitions in recent years. In January, the Redwood Shores, Calif., company finalized its $7.4 billion purchase of hardware maker Sun Microsystems Inc., moving it into the server and storage-systems business for the first time.
Mr. Hurd has broad experience in the technology business. Under his leadership, H-P became the world's biggest maker of personal computers and server systems and the largest technology company by revenue.
Mr. Ellison, 66, is famous for his iconoclastic predictions about the future of the technology industry and has always been the public face of Oracle. In recent years, however, he has left day-to-day operations to the company's two co-presidents, Safra Catz and Charles Phillips.
Mr. Ellison continues to have final say over strategic decisions at Oracle and is responsible for the company's engineering efforts. He is the company's largest shareholder, owning about 23% of Oracle.
Following Mr. Hurd's resignation from H-P last month, Mr. Ellison criticized H-P's board for letting Mr. Hurd go. The board, "failed to act in the best interest of H.P.'s employees, shareholders, customers and partners," Mr. Ellison wrote in an email to the New York Times.
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