Here’s an eye opener. Oracle co-president Mark Hurd is among eight external CEO candidates contacted by Microsoft board members, according to a Wall Street Journal report (registration required).
Most of the other named candidates are pretty well known already — alleged front-runner Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford, and Nokia exec Stephen Elop, as well as internal prospects Satya Nadella and Tony Bates.
But Hurd? Geez. His name surfaces every time a high-profile CEO slot opens up — or might open up. The reason? Hurd was a CEO who is now co-president at Oracle, sharing duties with Safra Catz. And Oracle’s current CEO, Larry Ellison, seemingly has no intention of retiring. Ever. Conventional wisdom holds that Hurd wants to be a CEO again — of something big, and Microsoft for all its issues, is very, very big.
Hurd was CEO at Hewlett Packard before a sexual harassment scandal forced him out. Most HP shareholders loved him because he delivered good results — at least as measured by Wall Street. But he also decimated HP’s vaunted R&D organization while surrounding himself with highly paid execs who delivered questionable value. Some say HP is still paying for his tenure.
So why does his name keep surfacing? Either it is being leaked, or — and this is my suspicion — corporate boards are not very creative or imaginative places. They keep interviewing and hiring the same old guys — and I do mean guys — over and over again.
So while I doubt Hurd will be the next Microsoft CEO — and I’ve been wrong before — it’s not surprising that he is being considered for the post. Perhaps it should be, though.