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Hurd makes debut on Oracle's earnings call

He doesn't address the soap opera surrounding his HP exit, but talks about Oracle's strengths over its competitors.

Mark Hurd made his debut on Oracle's fiscal first-quarter earnings call today. And though he didn't directly address his former employer or the drama surrounding his departure, he delicately danced around the topic.

After Oracle CEO Larry Ellison introduced his new co-president, Hurd took what can be seen as some pointed swipes at Hewlett-Packard, the company that dismissed him as CEO following an expense-reporting and sexual-harassment-claim scandal.

"Over the past 25 years I've competed against and partnered with Oracle," Hurd said. "Oracle has amassed an enviable portfolio of technology...I don't believe there is any other company in the industry better than Oracle."

It wasn't apparent if he was talking about just software or the technology industry in general. It was clear Hurd was being careful while there's litigation pending against him. When Hurd resigned from HP he walked away with a compensation package reportedly worth $40 million. One month from the day, Oracle announced it had hired Hurd as co-president. HP filed a lawsuit immediately, accusing Hurd of potentially stealing HP's trade secrets by working for an HP competitor.

Hurd also took time on the call to reiterate the importance of research at Oracle.

He praised "the sheer size of our R&D investments" at Oracle, and its "financial capacity to execute."

"We will spend over $4 billion this year on R&D," he added as a plug for the upcoming Oracle OpenWorld conference next week. "We'll explain next week how we're spending that money."

It was notable he chose to dwell on that point in light of what's been said about Hurd since his departure from HP. He has been hammered by people internally, as well as high-profile competitors like IBM, whose CEO was blunt about Hurd's handling of that at HP. "HP used to be a very inventive company," Sam Palmisano said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal this week. "Hurd cut out all the research and development."

Hurd sounded upbeat about his new role at Oracle and repeatedly praised his new colleagues.

"This is a very well-run company," he said near the end of the call with Wall Street analysts today. "We're going to grow and grow profitably. When you look at R&D and things we're announcing next week, we want to have the best sales force on the planet. Those are the things I'm working on."