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HP drops fight to block Hurd's Oracle hire

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OpenWorld Mark Hurd can officially work for Larry Ellison, now that HP has called off its lawyers.

HP revealed Monday that it settled its legal action against Hurd on September 10, three days after filing suit in a Californian court to stop Hurd from spilling trade secrets to Ellison.

Terms of the settlement are confidential, but HP said: "Hurd will adhere to his obligations to protect HP's confidential information while fulfilling his responsibilities at Oracle."

The PC and server maker's disgraced former CEO has agreed to waive his rights to 330,177 in performance-related shares and 15,853 time-restricted shares granted to him on December 11, 2009. If the rest of Hurd's exit package is untouched he still gets a $40m in separation.

In a brief statement, HP said it looked forward to continuing its collaboration with Oracle.

Oracle's chief executive Ellison, meanwhile, added: "Oracle and HP will continue to build and expand a partnership that has already lasted for over 25 years."

The statement was noteworthy in that it focused on the very thing Ellison said HP was jeopardized by prosecuting his tennis buddy Hurd: the relationship with Oracle.

On Sunday night at Oracle's OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, executives from HP and Oracle were busily stitching up the tears in the public fabric of their relationship caused by Ellison's earlier statements and his contentious hire of Hurd.

That speedy closure explains why Hurd was able to appear on stage at OpenWorld on Monday, and why HP hadn't tried to stop his appearance as an Oracle employee through a preliminary injunction.

It doesn't, though, explain what on earth Mr Execution actually added to the event. Billed as a keynote speaker on the OOW web site, Hurd delivered the standard words on how brilliant Oracle is by being number one in every single technology market, vertical, and server benchmark.

Given Oracle's vast M&A spree over the years, this is as meaningless a set of statements as the ruling party in a dictatorship claiming 98 per cent turnout in a general election and 99 per cent of the vote.

Party line delivered, the former HP and NCR man tried and failed at some early-morning crowd motivation, followed by some speedy self-deprecation, and then a quick rehash of Larry's product announcements from the night before. Finally, he handed over to the extremely competent executive vice president John Fowler who handled Sparc, Solaris, and server news.

Hurd did do one thing right, though: Ellison might be worth billions, be a winner of the America's Cup, captain a company of 100,000, and be capable of navigating a multi-billion-dollar acquisition for breakfast, but he can't use a PowerPoint clicker. Instead Ellison shouts "next slide" at some off-stage drone to change each slide for him.

Speaking Monday, Hurd was also barking "next slide" at some innocent based somewhere in the OpenWorld hall's darkness, who dutifully pressed a button to turn the page on his Oracle presentation deck. ®

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