Mark Hurd, who was co-chief of Oracle, one of the world’s top business-software companies, until he stepped aside last month for health reasons, died Friday. He was 62.
The company confirmed Hurd’s death to CNBC but declined to provide a statement. In an email obtained by CNBC, Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison informed employees that Hurd had died early in the morning.
“Oracle has lost a brilliant and beloved leader who personally touched the lives of so many of us during his decade at Oracle,” Ellison wrote. “All of us will miss Mark’s keen mind and rare ability to analyze, simplify, and solve problems quickly. Some of us will miss his friendship and mentorship. I will miss his kindness and sense of humor.”
Hurd announced a leave of absence from Oracle in September due to unspecified health reasons.
“Though we all worked hard together to close the first quarter, I’ve decided that I need to spend time focused on my health, Hurd said in the announcement. “I love Oracle and wish you all success during my absence.”
He and Safra Catz were appointed as CEOs of Oracle in September 2014. Oracle stock had gone up about 37% since then.
Hurd was CEO at Hewlett-Packard from 2005 to 2010, seeing its share price more than double. But his tenure wasn’t free of controversy.
First, a “pretexting” scandal broke out in 2006 over attempts to determine who at HP leaked information to the media. Outside investigators, pretending to be the people they were researching, presented the last four digits of the Social Security numbers of board members and news reporters to telephone operators to obtain details on their phone calls.
“While many of the right processes were in place, they unfortunately broke down and no one in the management chain, including me, caught it,” Hurd said on a conference call with reporters at the time. Board members left, federal agencies began investigations, and Hurd testified before a congressional committee. HP agreed to pay $14.5 million in a settlement with the California attorney general.
Then in 2010, HP share prices tumbled 8% after the tech company announced his resignation amid a sexual-harassment claim against him. HP concluded that although Hurd had not violated the company’s policy on sexual harassment, he did fail to comply with its standards.
In a letter to Hurd, lawyer Gloria Allred described his meetings with Oracle contractor Jodie Fisher in various cities and said he had made undesired advances to her client. Hurd’s expense reports included meals with his security guard, Denis Lynch, but the meals were with Fisher, and over time most of HP’s board members came to feel they had lost trust in him, The Wall Street Journal reported. Hurd settled with Fisher, who had once modeled for Playboy magazine, for undisclosed terms.
Ellison, then CEO of Oracle, quickly came to Hurd’s defense. The two were good friends, and Hurd had frequently played tennis at Ellison’s home in Silicon Valley, The New York Times reported. Following Hurd’s resignation, Ellison criticized HP’s board in a letter to the newspaper, saying it had “just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago.”
Within a month, Hurd had a new job, as president of Ellison’s company alongside Catz.
“Mark did a brilliant job at HP and I expect he’ll do even better at Oracle,” Ellison said in a statement at the time. “There is no executive in the IT world with more relevant experience than Mark. Oracle’s future is engineering complete and integrated hardware and software systems for the enterprise. Mark pioneered the integration of hardware with software when Teradata was a part of NCR.”
Four years later Hurd and Catz, were named as Oracle’s CEOs and Ellison became chief technology officer. The company did not consider them co-CEOs.
In announcing Hurd’s leave of absence, the company said Catz and Ellison would assume Hurd’s responsibilities.
Mark Vincent Hurd was born in New York on Jan. 1, 1957. His father was a financier, according to the Financial Times, and his mother was a physician’s daughter, according to Fortune. Hurd spent his childhood in New York and Miami. He began playing tennis in high school.
He was accepted into Baylor University in Waco, Texas, on a tennis scholarship and played on the Christian school’s tennis team.
Hurd graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
He joined ATM and cash register company NCR as a junior salesman in San Antonio in 1980, and in 1990 he married his wife, Paula, who was an NCR executive. He was appointed CEO in 2003. Two years later he moved to Silicon Valley to be HP’s new CEO.
At the time of his leave of absence from Oracle, he sat on Baylor’s board of regents. The Hurds have given money to Baylor, and the university plans a welcome center bearing their names.
Survivors include his wife and daughters, Kathryn and Kelly.
Read the full email to employees announcing Hurd’s death below:
It is with a profound sense of sadness and loss that I tell everyone here at Oracle that Mark Hurd passed away early this morning. Mark was my close and irreplaceable friend, and trusted colleague. Oracle has lost a brilliant and beloved leader who personally touched the lives of so many of us during his decade at Oracle. All of us will miss Mark’s keen mind and rare ability to analyze, simplify, and solve problems quickly. Some of us will miss his friendship and mentorship. I will miss his kindness and sense of humor. Mark leaves his beloved wife Paula, two wonderful daughters who were the joy of his life, and his much larger extended family here at Oracle who came to love him. I know that many of us are inconsolable right now, but we are left with memories and a sense of gratitude…that we had the opportunity to get to know Mark, the opportunity to work with him…and become his friend.