On the first day she worked for Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Jodie Fisher was taken to dinner by then-CEO Mark Hurd, who touched her with his hand in a way that made her uncomfortable and asked her to spend the night in his room, according to a long-secret letter — obtained Thursday by this newspaper — that celebrity attorney Gloria Allred wrote on Fisher’s behalf.The confidential letter, which ultimately led to Mark Hurd’s abrupt ouster from the world’s largest tech company in 2010, also alleged that Mark Hurd told Fisher he had other mistresses and bragged of his popularity with women, including singer Sheryl Crow, during a series of unwanted overtures that left Fisher feeling “violated, used and disregarded.”
Fisher, a part-time marketing contractor whose previous career included acting in racy films and a short-lived reality-TV show, said later that the letter contained unspecified inaccuracies. And she followed up her meetings with Mark Hurd by sending him a series of enthusiastic emails that didn’t mention any improprieties or concerns, according to an internal HP investigation. The emails also have never been disclosed before.
Mark Hurd’s sudden resignation from HP in August 2010 was a Silicon Valley bombshell from which the shock waves are still rippling. The 54-year-old Mark Hurd, who is married and now a president at tech rival Oracle (ORCL), had been widely praised for taking over a troubled HP in 2005 and rebuilding it into a financial powerhouse. The Palo Alto company has been on a roller coaster of successive upheavals since he left.
Fisher dropped her claim of sexual harassment after Mark Hurd paid her an undisclosed sum. Both parties denied ever having sex. And HP said its own investigation found no basis for the harassment claim, although the company blamed Mark Hurd for “poor judgment” and for expense account inaccuracies involving dinners with Fisher.
Mark Hurd, who declined comment through a spokesman Thursday, has previously denied harassing Fisher. In a brief statement, his attorney said the Allred letter was “filled with inaccuracies.”
Mark Hurd, who is married, and is now president of Oracle, flew from Palo Alto to Santa Monica, Calif., to meet Jodie Fisher personally.The two met again the follow month in what “felt more like a date,” Fisher recalled, and she was hired in October to attend an event in Atlanta.Following the event, the letter says Mark Hurd and Fisher had dinner, and Mark Hurd asked Fisher to come to his room to see some documents about Madame Wu Yi, the Chinese Vice-Premier, whom Mark Hurd was to meet the next day.
Mark Hurd fondled Fisher and asked her to stay the night, which she nixed. A “clearly miffed” Hurd said he was never rejected, demanding at least a hug.Fisher and Mark Hurd continued to meet for dinner and he kept wooing her, including by telling her about the various women he has slept with. He also noted that many women were “crazy about him,” including singer Sheryl Crow.
Using status and wealth to woo Fisher, the letter accuses Mark Hurd of bullying her.Mark Hurd often called Fisher in her room to talk about personal and business matters, including revealing that HP was about to purchase services giant EDS, which the company eventually did buy in May 2008 for nearly $14 billion.If true, it’s possible that Mark Hurd illegally leaked insider information.
The letter accuses Mark Hurd of instructing Fisher not to disclose anything “as it would be considered insider trading” if Fisher bought stock in EDS.In one noteworthy advance that took place in July 2009, the letter says Mark Hurd urged Fisher to “go away with him,” and he offered her “anything she needed.”Mark Hurd told her that he believed he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, but “would have to see how the chemistry in bed was.”Fisher declined the sex, the money and the trip.