Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Jyoti Bansal, Peter Silva, Pat Romanski

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
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, looked at differ...
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
The security needs of IoT environments require a strong, proven approach to maintain security, trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vic...
With the proliferation of both SQL and NoSQL databases, organizations can now target specific fit-for-purpose database tools for their different application needs regarding scalability, ease of use, ACID support, etc. Platform as a Service offerings make this even easier now, enabling developers to roll out their own database infrastructure in minutes with minimal management overhead. However, this same amount of flexibility also comes with the challenges of picking the right tool, on the right ...
Security, data privacy, reliability and regulatory compliance are critical factors when evaluating whether to move business applications from in-house client hosted environments to a cloud platform. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Vandana Viswanathan, Associate Director at Cognizant, In this session, will provide an orientation to the five stages required to implement a cloud hosted solution validation strategy.
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...
"Splunk basically takes machine data and we make it usable, valuable and accessible for everyone. The way that plays in DevOps is - we need to make data-driven decisions to delivering applications," explained Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk and @DevOpsSummit Conference Chair, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Security, data privacy, reliability, and regulatory compliance are critical factors when evaluating whether to move business applications from in-house, client-hosted environments to a cloud platform. Quality assurance plays a vital role in ensuring that the appropriate level of risk assessment, verification, and validation takes place to ensure business continuity during the migration to a new cloud platform.
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, discussed the impact of technology on identity. Sho...
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
In his session at DevOps Summit, Tapabrata Pal, Director of Enterprise Architecture at Capital One, will tell a story about how Capital One has embraced Agile and DevOps Security practices across the Enterprise – driven by Enterprise Architecture; bringing in Development, Operations and Information Security organizations together. Capital Ones DevOpsSec practice is based upon three "pillars" – Shift-Left, Automate Everything, Dashboard Everything. Within about three years, from 100% waterfall, C...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
"We provide DevOps solutions. We also partner with some key players in the DevOps space and we use the technology that we partner with to engineer custom solutions for different organizations," stated Himanshu Chhetri, CTO of Addteq, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus o...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developm...
"We're bringing out a new application monitoring system to the DevOps space. It manages large enterprise applications that are distributed throughout a node in many enterprises and we manage them as one collective," explained Kevin Barnes, President of eCube Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).