Autonomy was one of the brightest stars of the British software world, offering software that has the ability to search ‘unstructured data’ like video and voicemails, yet since the takeover by HP just over six months ago, it has struggled to meet expectations, and close deals.
So how did Mike Lynch manage to make the company so successful, yet it now needs, ‘different leadership to allow it to fulfill its full promise’ according to a statement from HP yesterday?
Perhaps the problems started when the deal was done back in October. Autonomy was known for its dexterity, which came in a large part from its relatively small size, its lack of management layers, and its start-up structure. Once it became absorbed into a giant like HP, it would have been a nearly impossible task to retain this fluidity.
Lynch claimed at a conference at the time that HP understood that, ‘Autonomy is high-speed, smaller and more agile and it needs to be left that way’. But noticeably this hasn’t happened.
Sources in the company have said that since the takeover, HP’s inner bureaucracy has made it difficult to get things done, thus trampling on the entrepreneurial essence that was at the heart of Autonomy.
Figures flying around have been stating that 20% of the workforce exited since the deal was done, including six members of the executive board. And tellingly, Lynch’s replacement is Bill Veghte, HP’s chief strategy officer; he previously led Microsoft’s Windows business…
But, let’s not forget, Lynch was fully aware of the nature of the company he sold his business to, so the way that HP ran it could not have come as a surprise, perhaps he just didn’t realise that he was dispensable…
The interesting thing to watch now is what Lynch will do next.