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Yesterday, the New York Times claimed HP’s board pushed out the company’s chief executive - Wall Street darling Mark Hurd - on the advice of a PR company.
APCO Worldwide managed to convince HP directors that the company would suffer months of humiliation if it did not act on allegations of sexual harassment from contractor Jodie Fisher, said the Times.
Yesterday’s stories went a long way to restoring Mr Hurd’s reputation.
It was leaked that no allegations of sexual misconduct were proven. And another high-profile tech chief executive, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, wrote an email to the Times saying “a false sexual harassment claim and some petty expense report errors led to the loss of one of Silicon Valley’s best and most respected leaders.”
Further words from Mr Ellison turned up on Forbes’ site: “The HP board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago [in 1985; he was famously recalled in 1997]. In losing Mark Hurd, the HP board failed to act in the best interest of HP’s employees, shareholders, customers and partners.”
And Ms Fisher offered the statement that she had “never had an affair or intimate sexual relationship" with the HP chief executive.
Today comes a possible reason for such a co-ordinated flow of positive news about Mr Hurd.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the bumped boss hired his own communications outfit, Sitrick & Co, which specialises in crisis management for high-profile individuals.
Previous clients have included Paris Hilton, and former HP chair Patricia Dunn (who stood accused of instigating a campaign to snoop on the phone records of nine journalists, and others, in an effort to track down boardroom leaks).
The Journal also reveals that Mr Hurd reached a private settlement with Ms Fisher (although a Sitrick & Co spokesman still maintained that “nothing improper” took place).
According to the Journal, the HP board is plotting a communications strategy for a “counter-attack”.
Yup, that should settle things down.