October 2, 2015
As the weekend hurtles toward me, it is time for another chapter of the HP Autonomy saga to become available. I read “The Ex-CEO of the Company HP Disastrously Bought for $11 Billion Is Now Suing HP for $150 Million.”
I assume the information is accurate. As I understand Michael Lynch’s effort to sue HP for money. Also, Autonomy’s CEO may want HP professionals to stop trashing Michael Lynch.
Readers of this blog know that I am skeptical of HP’s handling of the Autonomy matter. Yep, before hitting the beach of the lake filled with mine drainage, I actually did some work for the DRE/IDOL inventor. The experience was pretty positive, organized, and professional.
Why did HP which paid $11 billion for Autonomy find the deal unappetizing?
Spending $11 billion for a company and then wanting the money back may work when complaining about the food at the Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky, burger joint.
Those rural Kentucky treats cost $3.50. Overpriced? You bet. But people choose to go to the restaurant. People choose what to order.
But Autonomy is not a hamburger and the idea that seller, like the dive down the hollow, will a refund may not apply to a multi billion dollar rump roast.
I learned this about Michael Lynch’s legal move:
Lynch and team also maintain that “Autonomy was the victim of political infighting within HP” and that at one point, according to emails, HP’s head of human resources gave him a toy shield “in order to fend off all the attacks.”
Another point I noticed is this professional and well intentioned comment from the article:
An HP spokesperson told us: “Mike Lynch’s lawsuit is a laughable and desperate attempt to divert attention from the $5 billion lawsuit HP has filed and the ongoing criminal investigation. HP anxiously looks forward to the day Lynch and Hussain will be forced to answer for their actions in court.”
But the write up contained this statement attributed to Michael Lynch. This is a great description of MBAs and wizards who disagree among themselves:
Evidence shows that at the time of the acquisition, HP was in chaos. Before going ahead with the acquisition they discussed firing their CEO. They then tried to abort the deal after closing, ultimately did fire the CEO, and generally fought amongst themselves like cats in a sack, causing Autonomy to disintegrate.
Apt. Cats in a sack. The HP senior managers warrant a question: Alley cats or jungle cats?
Stephen E Arnold, October 2, 2015
October 2, 2015
The article on Reuters titled France Rejects Google Appeal on Cleaning Up Search Results Globally explores the ramifications of Europe’s recently passed Right to be Forgotten law. The law stipulates that search engines be compelled by requests to remove information. Google has made some attempts to yield to the law, granting 40% of the 320,000 requests to remove incorrect, irrelevant, or controversial information, but only on the European version of its sites. The article delves into the current state of affairs,
“The French authority, the CNIL, in June ordered Google to de-list on request search results appearing under a person’s name from all its websites, including Google.com. The company refused in July and requested that the CNIL abandon its efforts, which the regulator officially refused to do on Monday…France is the first European country to open a legal process to punish Google for not applying the right to be forgotten globally.”
Google countered that while the company was happy to meet the French and European standards in Europe, they did not see how the European law could be globally enforced. This refusal will almost certainly be met with fines and sanctions, but that may be the least of Alphabet Google’s troubles considering its ongoing disapproval by Europe.
Chelsea Kerwin, October 02, 2015
September 26, 2015
I don’t play baseball anymore. I did. I was okay, but one of the fellows who lived in my neighborhood in central Illinois played very well. He played everyday. After a stellar high school career, he became a fielder in the major leagues. The pressure was too much. He made bad decisions. He tried to claw back to the starting rotation. Instead of swinging with the relaxed, fluid motion I recalled from our days of playing together, he tried to hit a home run every time at bat. His confidence dwindled away, and he became a person who did not perform. Last I heard, he had fallen victim to his inner demons and was searching for a panacea. But, in my opinion, he struck out. Bad management.
Definition of panacea:
noun 1. a remedy for all disease or ills; cure-all. 2. an answer or solution for all problems or difficulties:
I thought about this person when I read “Deal Divided H-P Leaders” in the September 26, 2015, Wall Street Journal. You may need to pay to access this article which is available at as “Hewlett Packard’s Then Chairman Ray Lane Tried to Quash Autonomy Acquisition.”
The main point of the write up is that HP wanted a panacea, and the senior management of HP thought Autonomy, a search and content processing company, was the answer to HP’s revenue challenges.
The Wall Street Journal points out that the Chairman of the Board of Directors was supportive of the multi billion dollar deal and then wanted to kill the deal.
Also, the WSJ identifies what I would call a “management” problem; to wit:
HP missed other red flags in assessing the Autonomy deal. In 2013, the Journal reported that outside auditors for Autonomy had noted that an Autonomy executive had alleged improper accounting practices at the company [Autonomy]. However, HP executives briefed on the allegations hadn’t passed them along to HP’s Board or to Mr. Apotheker [president and Autonomy deal supporter].
The Wall Street Journal article includes a point I made in my 2003 analysis of Autonomy, a version of which appeared in the first edition of the Enterprise Search Report.
Revenues from software which allows employees to locate information germane to work activities has for decades faced a major hurdle; namely, making sales and keeping customers. The problem, which persists today, is that enterprise search vendors have a tough time making basic key word search command the type of license fees and corporate commitment which enterprise resource planning, accounting, and compliance-related systems demand.
Enterprise search vendors have, again for decades, explained that search and retrieval was something more than finding a needed document. The buzzwords used for decades invoke “knowledge management,” “business intelligence,” and “customer support.” Each of these is baloney, but enterprise search vendors trapped. Making search work in the fast changing content environments in which organization operate was a tough technical problem. The costs of engineering fixes was uncontrollable, and, not surprisingly, enterprise search vendors layered on additional functions in an effort to make sales, charge more, and stay in business.
Autonomy, along with IBM and OpenText, were firms which grew search via acquisition. Autonomy was perhaps the most successful of the roll up tacticians. The firm acquired Verity, a system which dated from the 1980s and added it to Autonomy’s earlier video management acquisitions, document management acquisitions, and other bits and pieces accumulated since Autonomy opened for business in the late 1990s.
Each acquisition added revenue to Autonomy’s financial reports and the customers of these acquisitions became candidates for other Autonomy products. At the time of the HP purchase decision, Autonomy had about six or seven times the revenue of Endeca, another late 1990s search vendor. (Oracle bought Endeca for $1.1 billion in 2011. Other search vendors sold in the 2008 t0 2014 period traded from much lower purchase prices; for example, IBM bought Vivisimo for $20 million, a figure which was equivalent to one year Vivisimo revenues.)
HP did not, in my opinion, understand that search and retrieval was a business that broke the backs of many bright MBAs and whiz kid engineers. HP assumed that its management team would triumph in generating billions from Autonomy’s core technology. I think some of Autonomy’s innovations are important, but I know that Autonomy was able to generate six or seven times the revenue of the number two search vendor in 2011 because it managed a portfolio of content processing companies and did a pretty good job of generating revenue from lines of business ADJACENT to search and retrieval.
HP wanted the 1990s technology of Autonomy to generate billions. HP quickly learned that its view of Autonomy did not match what Autonomy’s management team built.
I am not sure how bright folks at HP could not look at the failures of Convera, Delphes, Entopia, Siderean, and other search vendors and not ask, “What’s different about search?”
HP wanted a panacea. HP demonstrates the type of problem my friend who became a major league player had and still has. In the big leagues, swinging for the fences, seeking a silver bullet, and looking for a quick fix is easy. Finding a fix for a company with problematic business models and conflicting management views is very difficult.
What does the HP experience suggest? After decades of enterprise search hyperbole, reality is different from the word picture sales professionals create in the minds of those whose desperation clouds their thinking.
My view is that HP has struck out. Bad management in my opinion.
Stephen E Arnold, September 26, 2016
September 25, 2015
I read “US Will Probe Google for Anti-Competitive Android Behavior.” Quite a surprise. I assumed that Google and the US government’s legal system had moved on to more interesting topics; for example, Loon balloons, adding features to Gmail, and Version 2 of Glass.
Wrong was I. According to the article:
US regulators reportedly decided to launch the inquiry after meeting with rival tech companies, which complained that Google limits their access to Android in favor of its own apps.
The Alphabet Google thing is going to ensure that some attorneys have really good fourth quarter and 2016 revenues. The GOOG is dealing with the pesky European Union. Now the world’s greatest ad centric, search and retrieval outfit has to explain what’s up (not what’s app) with the Android business strategy.
My hunch is that the GOOG may be showing some signs of ageing. Management shuffles, a shift in the online advertising world from desktop search to mobile search, and the grousing some of the Alphabet Google thing’s competitors are taking a toll.
This will be interesting because Google will have to work harder to generate sufficient revenues to keep Wall Street happy. It will have to deliver numbers, not a road show talking about transparency to the stakeholders who want the two companies’ shares to keep on delivering good news. Also, the Alphabet Google thing cannot roll over and play dead as Facebook continues to follow the dollar signs in its social advertising sector.
Life was simpler when I thought about the objective methods to deliver results in response to my queries. Lawyers involved in these matters are likely to experience some additional billable hours. Those new gasoline powered Porsches look really slick too.
Stephen E Arnold, September 25, 2015
September 24, 2015
One of the new legal buzzwords is knowledge management and not just old-fashioned knowledge management, but rather quick, efficient, and effective. Time is an expensive commodity for legal professionals, especially with the amount of data they have to sift through for cases. Mondaq explains the importance of knowledge management for law professionals in the article, “United States: A Brief Overview Of Legal Knowledge Management.”
Knowledge management first started in creating an effective process for managing, locating, and searching relevant files, but it quickly evolved into implementing a document managements system. While knowledge management companies offered law practices decent document management software to tackle the data hill, an even bigger problem arose. The law practices needed a dedicated person to be software experts:
“Consequently, KM emphasis had to shift from finding documents to finding experts. The expert could both identify useful documents and explain their context and use. Early expertise location efforts relied primarily on self-rating. These attempts almost always failed because lawyers would not participate and, if they did, they typically under- or over-rated themselves.”
The biggest problem law professional face is that they might invest a small fortune in a document management license, but they do not know how to use the software or do not have the time to learn. It is a reminder that someone might have all the knowledge and best tools at their fingertips, but unless people have the knowledge on how to use and access it, the knowledge is useless.
September 22, 2015
I love HP. I used to use the firm’s laptops. Sure, the hinges broke, but the gizmo was pretty good. The misstep with Autonomy, however, is more significant than a poor hinge design. The management methods of the company are exposed with the Autonomy matter in my opinion. Perhaps HP should bring back Carly Fiorina. Dual CEOs. Whitman and Fiorina. What could be better.
I read “Michigan Sues HP over $49 Million Project That’s Still Not Done after 10 Years.” My thought was that the Whitman-Fiorina duo would have this resolved quickly.
According to the write up:
A new lawsuit filed by the state of Michigan over a $49 million project the state says is still not completed after 10 years. The contract dates back to 2005 and called for HP to replace a legacy mainframe-based system built in the 1960s that is used by more than 130 Secretary of State offices.
Now Michigan allegedly has paid HP about $33 million. The state, in a moment of wisdom, wants the source code for the project.
The write up includes this statement:
“I inherited a stalled project when I came into office in 2011 and, despite our aggressive approach to hold HP accountable and ensure they delivered, they failed,” said Secretary of State Ruth Johnson in a press release. “We have no choice but to take HP to court to protect Michigan taxpayers.”
How does a project drag on for 10 years?
My hunch is that governments, whether national or state level, have a tendency to create Healthcare.gov type situations. Also, large services firms which also sell printer ink are likely to find the mainframe thing sort of challenging. Toss in other variables like staff turnover, and the result can be darned exciting.
Again. Maybe it is time for dual HP CEOs. One can sue Autonomy. The other can manage Michigan’s state government, make the University of Michigan number one in computer science, and probably fix Detroit at the same time. Seems reasonable to me.
Stephen E Arnold, September 22, 2015
September 17, 2015
I read “Google Sues SEO Company over Harassing Calls Selling Front Page Domination.” I like the notion of front page domination. I like it even more when irrelevant results are generated because of search engine optimization.
The Alphabet Google thing wants to sell ads. Free visibility is just not job one. The write up points out:
Google says that Tustin, California-based Local Lighthouse has bombarded consumers with “incessant, unsolicited automated telephone calls” since mid-2014, making “false guarantees of first-page placement in Google search results.”
The surge in ad blockers is another issue. The fact that I am bombarded with ads when running a Google query is just not as annoying as robocalls.
Google should be able to bombard me. Local Lighthouse should not be allowed to bombard anyone.
To make matters worse, Lighthouse allegedly says that it has some relationship with the Google. That spells trouble.
Google is not happy with misrepresentations.
So if I pay Google for storage or some other Google product and service, I do not have a relationship with Google? Guess not.
Anyway, irrelevant search results and nips and tucks at the very specious search engine optimization sector will not change the reality of online information access.
Robocalls, unwanted digital ads—what’s the difference? Perhaps I could receive a robocall on my mobile as I browsed ad choked results? Seems about par for the relevant results game.
Stephen E Arnold, September 17, 2015
September 15, 2015
I remember when Sergey Brin was going to ride into space on a Russian rocket. See “Google Co founder Slated as Next Space Tourist.” No ride, no joy. Yet.
I learned in “Russia Says Google Broke Antitrust Laws” that the Alphabet Google thingy will have to deal with this alleged infraction:
Google Inc. has violated Russian antitrust laws by requiring that manufacturers pre-install its services on their devices, the local antitrust authority ruled, in a blow to the Internet giant’s bid to overtake domestic search-market leader Yandex NV.
The grouser is Yandex, a Russian information access outfit. I am not sure whom to believe. On one side of the legal matter, I see the Alphabet Google thingy. The company has spelled joy, creativity, and imagination. On the other side, there is Yandex, a company which offers a pretty good search system. The Russian language version provides access to content that I find difficult to locate in the Alphabet Google thingy.
The article reports:
Yandex has been losing market share to Google recently as the Mountain View, California-based rival is strongly positioned on devices running Android. Yandex’s share of Russian searches fell to 50 percent last month compared with 54 percent in January of 2014, according to LiveInternet.ru, while Google’s share rose to almost 42 percent from 34 percent. “It’s a violation that Google required equipment makers to pre-install its services, including search, to get the Google Play application store on their devices,” Vladimir Kudryavtsev, head of the IT department of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, said by phone on Monday. The regulator will issue detailed instructions on remedies to Google within 10 days, Kudryavtsev said.
I find legal squabbles uninteresting. With the new Google structure, I would deduce that Messrs. Brin and Page find flapping with legal eagles less exciting than soaring with Loon balloons.
From my point of view, the Alphabet Google thingy is a squishy target. Will the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune would the beasty? I don’t know. I assume that riding a Russian space ship is on permanent hold for the Googlers. Still.
Stephen E Arnold, September 15, 2015
September 7, 2015
While predictive analytics and other litigation software are more important than ever for legal professionals to sift through the mounds of documents and discover patterns, several companies have come to the rescue, especially dtSearch. Inside Counsel explains how a “New dtSearch Release Offers More Support To Lawyers.”
The latest dtSearch release is not only able to search through terabytes of information in online and offline environments, but its documents filters have broadened to search encrypted PDFs, including those with a password. While PDFs are a universally accepted document format, they are a pain to deal with if they ever have to be edited or are password protected.
Also included in the dtSearch are other beneficial features:
“Additionally, dtSearch products can parse, index, search, display with highlighted hits, and extract content from full-text and metadata in several data types, including: Web-ready content; other databases; MS Office formats; other “Office” formats, PDF, compression formats; emails and attachments; Recursively embedded objects; Terabyte Indexer; and Concurrent, Multithreaded Searching.”
The new PDF search feature with the ability to delve into encrypted PDF files is a huge leap ahead of its rivals, being able to explore PDFs without Adobe Acrobat or another PDF editor will make pursuing through litigation much simpler.
September 7, 2015
We cannot resist sharing this article with you, though it is only tangentially related to search; perhaps it has implications for the field of eDiscovery. Bloomberg Business asks and answers: “Are Lawyers Getting Dumber? Yes, Says the Woman who Runs the Bar Exam.”
Apparently, scores from the 2014 bar exam dropped significantly across the country compared to those of the previous year. Officials at the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), which administers the test, insist they carefully checked their procedures and found no problems on their end. They insist the fault lies squarely with that year’s crop of law school graduates, not with testing methods. Erica Moeser, head of the NCBE, penned a letter to law school officials informing them of the poor results, and advising they take steps to improve their students’ outcomes. To put it mildly, this did not go well with college administrators, who point out Moeser herself never passed the bar because she practices in Wisconsin, the only state in which the exam is not required to practice law.
So, who is right? Writer Natalie Kitroeff points out this salient information:
“Whether or not the profession is in crisis—a perennial lament—there’s no question that American legal education is in the midst of an unprecedented slump. In 2015 fewer people applied to law school than at any point in the last 30 years. Law schools are seeing enrollments plummet and have tried to keep their campuses alive by admitting students with worse credentials. That may force some law firms and consumers to rely on lawyers of a lower caliber, industry watchers say, but the fight will ultimately be most painful for the middling students, who are promised a shot at a legal career but in reality face long odds of becoming lawyers.”
The 2015 bar exam results could provide some clarification, but those won’t start coming out until sometime in September. See the article for much more information on Moeser, the NCBE, the bar exam itself, and the state of legal education today. Makers of eDiscovery software may want to beef up their idiot-proofing measures as much as possible, just to be safe.
Cynthia Murrell, September 7, 2015