Hewlett Packard Autonomy: A Decision of Sorts

January 28, 2022

I read “HPE Has Substantially Succeeded in Its £3.3bn Fraud Trial against Autonomy’s Mike Lynch – Judge.” The write up reports that buyer beware is not a legal argument. It appears that more litigation awaits Mike Lynch in the US. I noted one interesting statement in the very good summary of the UK legal activities:

Autonomy, which told the market it was a “pure play” software company, accounted for its substantial hardware sales by burying them inside its sales and marketing revenue instead of breaking them out separately.

I am delighted I am not an attorney. I am a retired knowledge worker who has some familiarity with the general technology used by Autonomy and I did some work for the company years ago.

My uninformed view is that Hewlett Packard was looking for a home run when Léo Apotheker (formerly SAP and owner of the TREX search technology), ignored realities about the search and content processing revenue ceilings. Hewlett Packard, it seems to me, pushed forward, ignored inputs, and paid the what might be called the Ford Bronco surcharge.

What happens when a used vehicle sales professional explains the sidewalk guarantee to the buyer? Nothing. Buyers often do not do their homework, are too excited about the deal, or just don’t care about the future until it arrives. Oh, oh. Are there lemon laws for content processing platforms? I suppose the question will be answered US style in the coming months.

Stephen E Arnold, January 28, 2022


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