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Mark Hurd's Excesses Were in Plain Sight

We are now hearing that Hurd will receive $40 million to $50 million in compensation as part of his exit because he voluntarily resigned, instead of the $27 million he would have gotten had the board fired him for cause.

It sure seems like the board had plenty of ammunition to fire Hurd. Instead, it chickened out and the played the "it's not you, it's me" golden handshake game to make it all go away as quickly and quietly as possible. H-P's board of directors is getting good at that game: It played it with Carly as well.

The warning signs of Mark Hurd having an entitlement issue have been around for some time. It's just that most people didn't want to believe they mattered. Nothing matters to most investors as long as the guy or gal is delivering the numbers.

Sometimes charisma and tough talk isn't enough. Mark Hurd did good work in getting Hewlett-Packard back on the rails. Yet we were all blinded by that initial success, and we stopped asking tough questions.

Ironically for the H-P shareholders who loved Hurd's execution skills, he's not going to be around to integrate EDS, 3Com or Palm. That could spell "one-time" charges in the future.

In my books, if you're piggish about the small stuff like expense reimbursements, you're going to be piggish about the big stuff. Mark Hurd flashed us warning signs predicting Friday's debacle. Most of us decided to ignore them.

-- At the time of publication, Jackson held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

Eric Jackson is founder and Managing Member of Ironfire Capital and the general partner and investment manager of Ironfire Capital US Fund LP and Ironfire Capital International Fund, Ltd. In January 2007, Jackson started the world's first Internet-based campaign to increase shareholder value at Yahoo!, leading to a change in CEOs in 2007. He also spoke out in favor of Yahoo!'s accepting Microsoft's buyout offer in 2008. Global Proxy Watch named Jackson as one of its 10 "Stars" who positively influenced international corporate governance and shareowner value in 2007.

Prior to founding Ironfire Capital, Jackson was President and CEO of Jackson Leadership Systems, Inc., a leadership, strategy, and governance consulting firm. He completed his Ph.D. in the Management Department at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business in New York, with a specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Governance, and holds a B.A. from McGill University.

He was previously Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at VoiceGenie Technologies, a software firm now owned by Alcatel-Lucent. In 2004, Jackson founded the Young Patrons' Circle at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, which is now the second-largest social and philanthropic group of its kind in North America, raising $500,000 annually for the museum. You can follow Jackson on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ericjackson or @ericjackson.

You can contact Eric by emailing him at eric.jackson@thestreet.com.

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