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?