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H-P's Hurd's Pay Troubling: Activist

H-P's error and refiling could have simply been a decision on its part, based on the angry reaction of employees and shareholders, for Hurd and all executives to simply cover these meals and their taxes themselves. Let's face it: It wouldn't have been a hardship for any of them based on their compensation last year.

I don't mind pay for performance. I do mind pay for non-performance and I mind perks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And in a year of across the board pay cuts? Where is their shame?

The board is equally or more to blame of course. After all, they approved all this. I was particularly surprised to note that Ken Thompson has served on the HP board for three years now. Thompson is one of the most disgraced CEOs coming out of the financial crisis.

He ended up destroying the fifth largest bank in America, Wachovia, by pushing it heavily into the area of subprime mortgages. When you destroy a company with $8 billion in annual profits, you shouldn't have the right to continue serving as a director and get $300,000 a year for doing so.

It was announced last week that Web pioneer Marc Andreesen would join H-P's board. I hope he can help reform the company's governance, but I don't think it's likely. In 2006, Andreesen sold his company Opsware to H-P for $1.6 billion -- making him indirectly beholden to Hurd and the rest of the board for his payday. That means Andreesen will likely be another voice around the table tacitly approving whatever Hurd wants to do and pay himself.

-- Written by Eric Jackson in Naples, Fla.

At the time of publication, Jackson did not hold any positions in the companies mentioned.

Eric Jackson is founder and president of Ironfire Capital and the general partner and investment manager of Ironfire Capital US Fund LP and Ironfire Capital International Fund, Ltd.

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