Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, ManageEngine IT Matters, Liz McMillan, Craig Lowell, AppDynamics Blog

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Microservices Expo, Agile Computing, Log Management, @CloudExpo, Apache

Containers Expo Blog: Article

HP, Mike Lynch & the Autonomy Whistleblower

Lynch, who categorically denies HP’s allegations, told the press late Tuesday that he was “ambushed” by HP’s charges

When Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman stunned practically everyone within earshot early Tuesday morning by accusing the company's year-old Autonomy acquisition of ripping off HP with phony financials, she said that after she bounced Autonomy's founder out of HP in late April a senior member of Autonomy's staff owned up to the fraud.

She didn't identify the informant, giving Autonomy founder Mike Lynch the opportunity to tell the press that he couldn't possibly imagine who she meant since he was the last senior manager to leave after HP ran everybody else off.

Apparently he didn't count noses all that well.

An informed source says the left-behind informant - and there may have actually been two - told HP that the bogeys Lynch set couldn't be met because they were based on a fiction.

Lynch himself was reportedly fired for missing his forecast by 20%, a sin Meg found insupportable. She supposedly dumped him to set an example. He blamed HP and its rules for it after he heroically tried to keep Autonomy away from HP's bureaucracy because its culture was "special," a device that worked with Meg initially.

Lynch, who categorically denies HP's allegations, told the press late Tuesday that he was "ambushed" by HP's charges, and had no details because he wasn't informed beforehand or contacted by any lawyers or regulators. All he knew was what was in the HP press release and didn't know what Whitman was talking about but was sure it could all be explained.

He ducked behind Deloitte, which he said audited Autonomy's results quarterly, and claimed his books were in line with international accounting standards, which, he said, may be different from US rules.

However, HP's investigators apparently questioned Lynch and the old Autonomy management team in July and found their answers vague and "unhelpful" so he must have known something,

Still Lynch claimed that HP had had hundreds of its people and three auditors doing due diligence before the acquisition closed and said they couldn't have missed an "elephant in the room" as big as HP alleges.

Ex-HP CEO Mark Hurd apparently spied the elephant right off when Autonomy tried to shop itself to Oracle, where Hurd was co-president. Sources say the roll-up was asking $4 billion-$6 billion and Hurd figured it was worth maybe $1.5 billion. Lynch denied trying to sell Autonomy to Oracle but Oracle put his presentation on its web site.

Rejected, Autonomy and the Frank Quattrone Qatalyst crew then breezed by HP - which had already bought 3PAR from Quattrone for a ludicrous $2.35 billion, a 200% premium. They talked to CTO Shane Robison, who convinced then-CEO Leo Apotheker it was worth spending over $12 billion including debt to buy. A year later HP is writing off an amazing $8.8 billion on the adventure.

Lynch blames the "internecine" politics inside HP, its rejection of Apotheker and Robinson's strategy of dumping PCs and focusing on software, and the "coup d'état" that unseated them for his current problem.

With them gone because of the wildly unpopular Autonomy acquisition and with Whitman in charge, he claims HP mismanaged the acquisition, imposing 30% mark-ups on Autonomy software, running off established accounts, and not paying commissions on Autonomy sales but instead paying its salesmen for the competitive software they sold.

He figures Autonomy's prospects deteriorated and that's why HP took the massive write-off - to cover up its mismanagement.

He forgets Autonomy's reputation, at least in England, in the years before HP entered the picture, when it was a public company and the press and analysts were suspicious of its numbers and its vapor-y Bayesian unstructured data IDOL search technology or Intelligent Data Operating Layer, citing pretty much the same kind of "not-as-good-as-it-looks" objections HP is now complaining about.

Forrester Research says Autonomy "didn't invest in R&D; they didn't have regular software releases; they weren't transparent with a roadmap of where they were going; they didn't seek customer feedback. Customers complained, but the promise of managing all their information and making better decisions was so attractive. They bought more."

Lynch must also be aware of the rumors that have circulated about Autonomy since the HP takeover and spreading tales of users throwing out the over-hyped software or getting it for nothing, which may explain why its sales plummeted.

Forbes captures best what reporters have been up against for the last year as reports on hard-to-prove shenanigans were dangled in front of them.

It said, "Here's what my source observed personally":

"Autonomy grew through acquisitions, buying everything from storage companies like Iron Mountain to enterprise software firms like Interwoven. They'd then go to customers and offer them a deal they couldn't refuse. Say a customer had $5 million and four years left on a data-storage contract, or ‘disk,' in the trade. Autonomy would offer them, say, the same amount of storage for $4 million but structure it as a $3 million purchase of IDOL software, paid for up front, and $1 million worth of disk. The software sales dropped to the bottom line and burnished Autonomy's reputation for being a fast-growing, cutting-edge software company a la Oracle, while the revenue actually came from the low-margin, commodity storage business.

"They would basically give them software for free but shift the costs around to make it look like they got $3 million in software sales," the Forbes source, who directly observed such deals, said.

"Lynch's management team was also practiced at the art of wringing attractive-looking growth out of a string of ho-hum acquisitions. The typical strategy was to bolt IDOL and other software onto a company's existing products and try and convince customers to pay more for the ‘new' products. If that failed, they'd milk the existing customer base by halting development and outsourcing support," its source said, "using the cash from the runoff business to fund more acquisitions."

"Mike Lynch was famous for saying Autonomy never put an end-of-life on any product. But the customers were screaming."

In sales meetings, Lynch reportedly "loved to do vague and theoretical academic-type presentations to show what a visionary he was." And the product "looked like a lot of vaporware wrapped up in fancy Cambridge talk and the kind of accounting tricks managers have engaged in since the dawn of publicly traded stock."

HP's admission of being snookered means its CEO and its board, which voted for the acquisition, have put their heads on the chopping block given HP's history of incompetent management.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Unsecured IoT devices were used to launch crippling DDOS attacks in October 2016, targeting services such as Twitter, Spotify, and GitHub. Subsequent testimony to Congress about potential attacks on office buildings, schools, and hospitals raised the possibility for the IoT to harm and even kill people. What should be done? Does the government need to intervene? This panel at @ThingExpo New York brings together leading IoT and security experts to discuss this very serious topic.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"At ROHA we develop an app called Catcha. It was developed after we spent a year meeting with, talking to, interacting with senior citizens watching them use their smartphones and talking to them about how they use their smartphones so we could get to know their smartphone behavior," explained Dave Woods, Chief Innovation Officer at ROHA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation; Alan Williamson, Principal...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, discussed recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model for ...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.