IBM CEO Sam Palmisano tells the WSJ that Hurd hurt HP by cutting its R&D budget, and that it's Hurd's new employer, Oracle, that will be IBM's biggest challenge.
Sam Palmisano is keeping his eye more on Oracle now than Hewlett-Packard.
In an interview with the Wall
, Palmisano said that during former CEO
Mark Hurd's five-year tenure, HP was hurt by sharp cuts in its R&D budget,
and that the company was declining in relevance.
He said that it is Oracle, and not HP, that will be IBM's
most formidable competitor in the upcoming years, due to CEO
Larry Ellison's continued investment in the company's technology.
Palmisano also criticized HP's board of directors for giving
Hurd a massive severance package last month after forcing the CEO
IBM and HP have been
competitors in a growing number of areas, from servers and storage to services
and management software. However, during his five years as CEO,
Hurd slashed the company's R&D budget, a move that weakened the company and
forced it to buy other vendors to expand its portfolio rather than create from
within, Palmisano said, adding that he doesn't worry about HP anymore.
As an example, he pointed to the recent bidding
war between HP and Dell
for storage software vendor 3Par, which HP
eventually landed earlier this month for $2.35 billion.
"HP used to be a very inventive company," Palmisano
told the WSJ, indicating that he thought the company vastly overpaid for 3Par.
"[HP] had no choice. Hurd cut out all the research and development."
According to the WSJ, during Hurd's tenure, HP's R&D budget
was reduced from 4 percent to 2.5 percent of its budget. IBM
has kept its R&D investment at 6 percent of its budget.
Palmisano also criticized the HP board for giving Hurd a
severance package of about $35 million after he resigned under pressure last
Hurd was accused of sexual harassment by a former HP
contractor, and while an internal investigation found no proof to back up the
claim, it did uncover that Hurd had fudged expense reports to cover up his
personal relationship with the woman.
A month after resigning, Hurd was hired by Oracle to be
has sued Hurd
to keep him from taking the job, claiming that in that
position, he would violate the conditions of his severance agreement.
"That is not a good use of shareholder money," Palmisano
said in the interview. "It was not handled in the best interest of
Regarding Oracle, he said Ellison's company will become IBM's
largest rival in the future. IBM and Oracle
compete in such areas as databases software, and now that Oracle has bought Sun
Microsystems for $7.4 billion, that competition will bleed over into such areas
as servers and storage.
Ellison and other Oracle executives believe that the tight
integration of their software on Sun hardware will pose a challenge to IBM.