The events were billed as CEO executive summit meetings, exclusive gatherings, often lasting several days, where Hewlett-Packard officials wooed top customers. When Mark V. Hurd, HP's chief, appeared at them, he relied on Jodie Fisher, a 50-year-old former reality TV contestant turned HP marketing consultant, who would introduce him to customers and keep him company.
Hurd's relationship with Fisher, which led to his ouster last week, has put an unsavory end to one of the great executive runs in recent American business history. And it has stunted a long search by HP's employees for stability and pride at the patriarch of Silicon Valley companies.
On Sunday, Fisher, who had accused Hurd, 53, of sexual harassment, disclosed her identity in a statement from her lawyer and said that she had never had a sexual relationship with Hurd. "I was surprised and saddened that Mark lost his job over this," she said. "That was never my intention."
Hurd, who is married, has settled the matter with Fisher for an undisclosed sum.
HP's top executives said they would no longer discuss Hurd's situation and vowed to find a new chief executive to keep the business running smoothly. "We are not going to slow down one bit," said Cathie Lesjak, the chief financial officer and interim chief executive.
But turning the page on the scandal will not be easy.