Late on Friday, computer giant HP issued a press release out of the blue, announcing its CEO of five years - Mark Hurd - was resigning with immediate effect.
The cause was nothing to do with HP's business performance, which is considered to have been good during Hurd's tenure, but is the result of Hurd's personal conduct revealed after an internal investigation prompted by a claim of sexual harassment brought against Hurd by a female former contractor.
But in the press release HP stressed there had been no violation of its sexual harassment policy, which presumably frowns on such activity. The reason Hurd has resigned is "violations of HP's standards of business conduct."
Hurd himself elaborated, a bit, in the release: "As the investigation progressed, I realized there were instances in which I did not live up to the standards and principles of trust, respect and integrity that I have espoused at HP and which have guided me throughout my career."
The NYT got a bit more detail; it looks like Hurd - who is married - filed some inaccurate expense reports designed to cover up payments, which could be as much as $20,000, to the contractor. There seems to have been some degree of clandestine relationship between the two, but the public stance at least is that it wasn't sexual.
This appears to be backed up by a public statement released by the contractor, identified as 50-year-old former actress Jodie Fisher. In a public letter from her lawyers, Fisher said: "I was surprised and saddened that Mark Hurd lost his job over this. That was never my intention. Mark and I never had an affair or intimate sexual relationship." Slightly nuanced, but otherwise pretty clear.
The letter also revealed that Fisher has resolved her claim with Hurd privately, but says nothing about the claim against HP. CFO Cathie Lesjak has been appointed as interim CEO while HP conducts a search for a permanent replacement for Hurd. HP's share price dropped nearly ten percent on Friday.