No. 8: Mark Hurd

Mark Hurd‘s ouster from Hewlett-Packard shows that even a disgraced Wall Street darling is almost certain to have a soft landing. When it was first reported that former actress Jodie Fisher had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Hurd, Fisher experienced a spike of interest in her film and TV career (highlights: “Body of Influence 2” and “Age of Love,” a reality dating show). But her contract work for HP’s marketing department as a party hostess and event organizer was much less colorful, and her suit was settled out of court.

As far as HP’s board was concerned, the case wasn’t closed. The board accused Hurd of falsifying expense reports to conceal his dinners with Fisher and fired him. Sure, the $20,000 in disputed charges is no chump change, but it’s not a $1.2 million office renovation, either.

The real story may be that HP employees didn’t share Wall Street’s love for their cost-cutting CEO. He slashed more than 48,000 jobs as he was bringing home $24.2 million in compensation.

But when you’re the head of a Fortune 500 company, you tend to have friends in high places. Hurd’s buddy Larry Ellison blasted HP’s board for demanding his resignation, then offered Hurd safe harbor at Oracle. HP fired back with a lawsuit accusing Hurd of planning to violate company secrets, and the company settled by cutting a swath out of Hurd’s golden parachute.

With at least $12.2 million in cash, he’s sitting pretty — especially when his new gig comes with a potential bonus of $10 million, which dwarfs his $950,000 salary. Despite laying out all that money, Oracle doesn’t really need Hurd, who is sharing the title of president. Some think he’s being groomed as Ellison’s successor. In the meantime, maybe Hurd will relax and take up sailing with his new boss.

–Cicely Wedgeworth

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