Mark Hurd: HP's international man of mystery

HP's CEO, Mark Hurd

Last Friday I spent a couple of hours with Phil McKinney. He oversees the long-range technical strategy, research and development and innovation programs for Hewlett-Packard’s (HPQ) Personal Systems Group (PSG) as the Vice President and Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

He was interviewing me for a future podcast, but after that was over we just had a nice informal chat. I had my Apple iPad with me and he told me that he loved it, too, and was just finishing three years of work on HP’s slate, coming soon.

I didn’t think anything of this confidence (only confident people love their competitors’ hottest products) but after HP announced it was buying Palm it all made sense.

This is a new, confident, HP.

But what about the man behind the new HP? It’s Mark Hurd, HP’s CEO, everyone told me.

Thanks to JD Lasica for the photo of him.

The thing is, he doesn’t show up to HP’s press events. He doesn’t give interviews. I haven’t seen him on stage at many industry conferences (even the usually secretive Steve Jobs is speaking this year at the All Things D conference).

But as I looked around that conference room in HP I noticed that not only were they confident, but they were having fun again.


Because, they told me, Mark is focusing all of his energy on executing and isn’t micromanaging and isn’t doing anything negative, the way that Carly Fiorina did. The dislike of Carly sure seeps out of people when you get them to talk. One employee I talked with who has worked at HP for a very long time (so long she still calls it Hewlett Packard on her emails) told me I’d have to work very hard to find anyone at HP who supports Carly.

It makes sense that Mark would be the opposite of Carly because of this hatred of everything Carly stood for.

What has Mark done to reverse Carly’s moves?

1. He’s reached out to the Hewlett and Packard families. Carly pissed them off.
2. He stays away from the press. Carly loved getting press and was adept at talking with the press.
3. He doesn’t micromanage, letting his people work on their jobs. Carly was seen as a micromanager who loved to get involved in things.
4. He focuses on good acquisitions that add value to HP, like the one announced yesterday, not ones that are seen as destructive to HP.
5. He adds value to shareholders, while Carly was seen as destroying value.

I’ve heard a few other stories too, about how Mark has made some moves to protect HP’s image worldwide and enhance it.

It’s amazing how HP has become a company to watch and now that Apple is tarnishing its brand by sending the cops after bloggers it looks like Mark is well positioned to step into the role as the international man of mystery in the tech industry. He has just moved into the top position in tech industry leadership.

Do you agree he is the top tech industry leader now?


  1. Have you been to lately to check out HPs standing among its employees? You’ll be surprised. The picture on the outside is much different from the one on the inside.

  2. Q: “Do you agree he is the top tech industry leader now?”
    A: I feel comfortable supporting Mark Hurd as the “top” voice of the tech industry. We need more tech leaders in the world whose actions are unifying an not destructive! We want/need a Tech Messiah!

  3. When I see the letters HP I start getting negative.

    HP is deeply involved in the plan to turn biometric all Israeli identity cards and set up a national biometric database.

    Very bad for privacy and human rights.

    While you are in Israel, ask around about the Biometric Bill. Get ready for some angry reactions.

    Read more here –

  4. “Do you agree he is the top tech industry leader now?”

    Hardly! Let's wait until we seem some real results.And how can we say anyone is “the top”. Way too subjective. I'd certainly say he is “one of the top tech industry leaders”. And HP is definitely one to watch

    But on the other hand… Apple is already heading for where the puck is going to be (eg Siri), HP and others are only just getting to where it is.

    I am confident that HP will do well with Palm, and MS must have shat themselves when they heard this. HP back in the user OS game? MS should be very scared. As if Google and Apple weren't big enough problems, to have one of their biggest long term partners turn is a real problem for MS.

  5. can a guy rarely mentioned in the media be the 'top tech industry leader'? if he had lead something of a value wouldn't at least a small section of the media cover him/his actions?

  6. >> Do you agree he is the top tech industry leader now?

    I am with “chrish341″ and his hardly remark.

    Having never worked for either Hurd or Fiorina, I only have a very much “outsider's” view. However, if Fiorina called, I would drop everything else. Your guy? Not so much.

  7. The 'top position in tech industry leadership'? That's a bit of a brazen (a) overstatement and (b) rushed conclusion based on a relatively short list of observations, don't you think?

    So no, I don't think he's in the top position. Hardly. I think he's doing good things with a company that was beginning to rival CA as the place where good tech goes to die.

    Now, let's talk again in a year's time.

  8. When Mark is ready, you should be there with a video cam (with more than 14min of recording capability ;).
    I'd love to see that interview.

    Good stuff Robert.

  9. The rank and file of HP have seen only the cost-cutting and the destruction of the Hewlett-Packard value system. Mark Hurd may not micro-manage his reports, but he has no respect for the individual contributor regardless of their skills and backgrounds. He is a prime example of the hollowing out of American manufacturing. If you think this is praiseworthy, you must not care for the average techie because they are the ones who lose in Mark Hurd's vision of the industry.

  10. As a CEO Mr. Hurd is doing what CEO’s do and scores quite nicely. But the not-so-dirty-little-secret inside the company is the employees are extremely unhappy, all took pay cuts AND large increases in health care costs. god help HP when the economy turns around.

  11. From the outside HP may be the companany to watch but from the inside the picture isn't quite so rosey. Corporate greed is killing HP and many other large companies like a slow growing cancer. The employee is no more important then that computer in the data center.

  12. You need to talk to people who don't get stock options given to them. He is a hated man inside HP. Every company he buys all the top execs leave because of the “culture” created by Mark Hurd. He gives himself a pay increase when he cuts all emplyee salaries.

  13. Wow. What a completely factless and biased report based on sticking ones nose up the backside of an HP executive. These “destroyer of lives” (Mark and the rest of the HP 6) have taken over $250 million in compensation while terminating over 75,000 employees. They should be executed on national television, not praised for raping other Americans of their livelihood.

  14. BTW, HP's stock symbol is “HPQ”, not “HP”. Your link regarding adding shareholder value points to a goolgle finance chart for Helmerich & Payne, Inc. What an idiot. Evidently, there are no employee hiring standards at Rackspace.

  15. HP just needs a better reputation in general. When you go to Best Buy, people are looking at either PC's or Macs. The difference between HP, Acer, Sony is lost amongst most people. HP needs to differentiate itself. The ads with celebrities is helping, and I think the next move would be to make some damn fine looking products.

    Sean in 60

  16. How much Kool-Aid did you drink from the dispenser on your way into the meeting?
    The reality is that HP's internal management, employees, and over-all morale are in the toilet. Cost and job cuts, insane pressure, and a “you are lucky to have a job” threatening environment have killed any creativity or loyalty.

    Reading your article makes me think you were involved in some sort of twister accident and woke up in a colorful land with little people running about. Wow! Could not be more off base if you tried.