James Ashton: Knives out for the Lynch mob as Whitman calls foul over Autonomy founder's books

The two sides repelled almost as soon as Mr Lynch banked his £500m cheque

Could Mike Lynch and his fellow Cambridge boffins have been so stupid as to cook the books? Meg Whitman is convinced they did, and is rolling out big-gun advisers to drag Mr Lynch to court. The master of Autonomy's data-sorting technology strenuously denies wrongdoing, but he may need to set out a watertight defence, and fast.

Questions about Autonomy have dogged its meteoric rise. A vocal minority of City analysts led a bearish campaign against mushrooming revenue streams they thought too good to be true.

But the bulls who snapped up the shares after the dot.com crash in 2002 weren't listening because they were enjoying some stellar stock market returns.

All bets were off 15 months ago, when Mr Lynch succeeded in selling out to Hewlett-Packard (with, he notes, extensive due diligence involving 300 people). It might have deprived the FTSE 100 of a rare home-grown hi-tech success, but what better validation than being bought by one of Silicon Valley's cornerstone companies?

HP, desperate to boost its presence in software as its personal computers and printers started to look old hat, kept the deal under wraps using the codename Project Tesla, after the unit of measurement for magnetic field strength.

Instead of attracting each other, the two sides repelled almost as soon as Mr Lynch banked his £500m cheque. At its heart was a culture clash between Autonomy's entrepreneurial spirit and HP's heavy layers of bureaucracy.

Of course there's an element of déjà vu here – a soured deal, a hastily departed founder, huge impairment charge and a very public row. Not HP's bust-up with Autonomy, but the story of eBay's acquisition of the internet phone company Skype.

And who led that deal seven years ago? None other than former eBay boss Ms Whitman, who is now clearing up at HP. The giants of Silicon Valley have so much cash stuffed in their hard drives they can afford to spend first and worry later when it comes to the elusive pursuit of growth.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before