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.
- 1 Autism 'caused by genetics', study suggests
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Why you should never make assumptions about people with autism
- 4 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Bali nine: Welcome to 'Execution Island' – the Indonesian holiday resort where foreigners are sent to die
How Homer Simpson discovered the Higgs boson over a decade before scientists
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Harrison Ford plane crash: Star Wars actor 'seriously injured' after light aircraft crash lands
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'
iJobs Money & Business
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...
£30 - 35k + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Executive Assist...