Meanwhile back in “Sillycon” Valley, the reverberations from the HP privacy debacle are being sharply felt. Chairwoman Dunn is being tossed out on her keister, along with another board member who, it was discovered through the fraudulently obtained phone records, to have been a little too chummy with a newspaper reporter.

Another board member, the venerable Thomas Perkins of the legendary venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, resigned in disgust. Indeed, it was the publication of his complaint letter that first alerted the world to Dunn’s shenanigans.

What long-term effects will HP’s privacy problems have?

First and foremost, it has tarnished – perhaps permanently – HP’s efforts to position itself as a champion of sound privacy practices. The speed with which Ms. Dunn is being ejected from the building, and whatever ramifications will be visited upon those who facilitated this mess may help to close the credibility gaps. But for years to come, HP will be a privacy punch-line.

On a deeper level, the HP situation shows the depths to which personal integrity and honor have slipped here in the cradle of high-tech.

In the circles of power – board rooms, venture capitalist offices, and sometimes the back patio at Il Fornaio Restaurant in Palo Alto – some of the biggest deals are still made on the basis of someone’s honor.

Of course there is still a billion square feet of lawyers’ desks up and down Highway 101, producing enough legal agreements on a daily basis to wallpaper the Great Wall of China. But before the lawyers paper it, the deal has to be done by people who trust each other.

The denizens of Silicon Valley aren’t a naïve bunch. To borrow a favorite phrase about politics from former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, those who do business here know that high-tech “ain’t beanbag.”

Especially in these somewhat leaner and meaner times in the Valley, it’s the hard-nosed who have survived and thrived in this environment, and many of them owe their success to a tough, and sometimes ruthless, competitive spirit.

Along with that toughness comes the need for a thick skin. Indeed, the oldest and wisest in the Valley have seen it all, and have such thick skins to prove it that they can shrug off circumstances and situations that would stun a bull elephant.

So what is it about the HP board snooping that struck a nerve?

While many can succeed here through the sheer force of will, deep down everyone who does business in the Valley knows that those who make it in the long run have a consistent common trait: a deep commitment to personal integrity.

Even in the midst of the most cut-throat high tech and high finance deals, very little works if you can’t trust someone’s word. And while a sleazebag might get one deal done, it doesn’t take long for someone to build a reputation that will cause doors to be slammed in their face all up and down Sand Hill Road.

Moreover, when you get into the rarified air of corporate board rooms and executive suites, there’s still a sense that it’s still an “old boy’s club” of sorts where a certain level of decorum is expected.