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Mike Lynch: We’ve still not heard anything from HP

Caroline Baldwin

Mike Lynch, the former CEO and founder of UK software firm Autonomy, has said that HP has still not attempted to get in touch following its allegations of fraud made in November last year.

HP bought the business intelligence software firm Autonomy in 2011 for $11.7bn. But in November 2012 it claimed former managers at the firm had used “accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures to inflate the underlying financial metrics of the company” to boost its share price before the acquisition went through.

As a result, HP wrote down the value of Autonomy by $8.8bn and said the US Department of Justice had opened an investigation.

“No one approached us,” Lynch said at the Web Summit event in London. “We’ve not heard from HP, only the FRC [UK Financial Reporting Council] which checks auditors.

“I’ve demanded to see what they have. I knew nothing of the allegations beforehand. Perhaps if someone had asked, we would have been able to explain,” he said.

Lynch – who left HP in 2012 – has all along denied the allegations, but said he will to co-operate with the investigations.

When asked why he sold Autonomy in the first place, Lynch said: “The reality of a public company in the UK is that you have no control if the company gets sold.”

He said that you give up the right to be happy or not about the sale when you go public. “The most important thing was to retain the talent,” he said. “Once you get bogged down in conference calls and form filling we saw a lot of that talent leaving.”

Lynch said that as companies get bigger they need to be careful to keep it feeling like a start-up for its staff. “All you can do is talk to the management and make sure they’ve understood the issues,” he said.

Mike Lynch was fired by HP in May last year, and has since established a $1bn venture capital fund to invest in British technology start-ups. 


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