Mark Hurd is at the center of the case. A close friend of Larry Ellison’s, the two reportedly discussed merging the two companies, and another time talked about jointly buying Sun. When Hurd was forced to resign over his personal conduct, Ellison blasted the board, calling the move “the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago.” It’s the wording in the settlement that ended the legal dispute over Oracle hiring Hurd that is at issue in the Itanium case.
The Oracle CEO reportedly wrote the draft of the press statement announcing Oracle’s Itanium decision during a 15-minute break while serving as a juror on a trial last year. Ellison and other Oracle executives claim that Intel’s intention has been to end development of the controversial Itanium platform soon and focus instead on its x86-based Xeon chips. He accused HP officials of not being honest with customers about Itanium’s future.
Paul Otellini, Intel’s CEO, has disputed Oracle’s claim about Itanium, saying that the giant chip maker’s road map for the platform extends for many years and several more generations. However, internal HP emails released by Oracle seemed to show that as far back as 2007, Otellini was frustrated by the financial losses Itanium was sustaining and was considering ending the platform.
Now a member of HP’s board of directors, Livermore until recently was a longtime company executive who oversaw HP’s server hardware business. Livermore, a former senior vice president, was the first witness called, saying that Oracle President Safra Catz assured her that after Oracle bought Sun, Oracle’s software sales were going to remain platform-neutral. Livermore said she was concerned after Hurd left HP and took the Oracle position, worried that he was leaving with “ill will toward HP” and that he knew everything about HP, including its reliance on Itanium.
David Donatelli, executive vice president and general manager of HP’s Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking business, railed at Oracle’s decision on Itanium, calling the move “anti-customer” and claiming the software company was looking to harm HP to boost its own SPARC hardware business. “We are shocked that Oracle would put enterprises and governments at risk while costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity in a shameless gambit to limit fair competition,” said Donatelli.
Martin Fink, at one time senior vice president and general manager of HP’s Business Critical Systems group, was in the middle of negotiations with Intel to keep the Itanium platform going. HP, the only significant Itanium customer, eventually agreed to pay Intel more than $488 million to keep Itanium alive. According to internal HP documents, an HP executive asked Fink through email what would happen if HP refused to pay Intel. “Simple. They shut down Poulson and Kittson development and exit Itanium and have a round of high-fives,” Fink replied. Poulson and Kittson are code names for versions of Itanium.
Cathie Lesjak, executive vice president and CFO at HP, served as the interim CEO between the time Hurd resigned and ex-SAP CEO Leo Apotheker was hired to replace him.