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HP Claims Autonomy Misrepresented Itself

Written By: josh chalifour
Published On: November 21 2012

Woe is HP. The company recently made headlines with news that its Autonomy division, which sells a number of products for enterprise content management (ECM), search and discovery, customer experience management, and more, misrepresented its financial situation to get itself acquired by HP. Indeed, HP says its pain from this misreprentation comes to about $5 billion (USD).
In a press release HP said:
"HP is extremely disappointed to find that some former members of Autonomy’s management team used accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures to inflate the underlying financial metrics of the company, prior to Autonomy’s acquisition by HP. These efforts appear to have been a willful effort to mislead investors and potential buyers, and severely impacted HP management’s ability to fairly value Autonomy at the time of the deal. We remain 100 percent committed to Autonomy and its industry-leading technology."

If this all proves to be the case, it's interesting how such a large discrepancy managed to go undetected for so long. An article from Thomson Reuters pointed out that there were 15 companies involved in the acquisition process. In spite of that scrutiny, none managed to discover the alleged improprieties or misrepresentations.

Early on, HP's acquisition of Autonomy raised a lot of questions about the company's goals. HP was chopping hardware product lines that it had spent a lot of effort developing and then turning in some unexpected ways toward this software side of the business. So one might also wonder how this recent announcement looks from the Autonomy side (or at least the former members of Autonomy's management team).

HP hasn't put the greatest effort into communicating it's Autonomy strategy, especially in comparison with the efforts that can be seen from competing vendors in the information management realm. It's a bit ripe that in the press release quoted above, HP makes serious claims, which although moving some blame, don't necessarily remove all blame from HP itself, and then abruptly states that it ". . . remains 100 percent committed to Autonomy . . ."

Even with some good tech developed by (or acquired by) Autonomy, does that little sentence assure anyone about the current or former stewardship of the Autonomy product line?
 
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