Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Automic Blog, William Schmarzo, Elizabeth White, Dalibor Siroky, Mehdi Daoudi

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.


@CloudExpo Stories
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, addressed this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of the ...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"We're focused on how to get some of the attributes that you would expect from an Amazon, Azure, Google, and doing that on-prem. We believe today that you can actually get those types of things done with certain architectures available in the market today," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.