Autonomy's Mike Lynch goes on offense in battle with HP
Former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch has decided the best defense is a good offense. That's why he he has built a new website to tell his side of the story in the ongoing drama with HP over his company's sale.
HP accused Autonomy of grossly misleading them during the due diligence period prior to HP's $10 billion purchase of his former company last year. HP (NYSE: HPQ) recently wrote off an astonishing $8.8 billion because of this and rumors have been flying about Autonomy's business practices ever since.
When people start questioning your integrity and the likes of the Wall Street Journal start reporting on supposed "red flags" around Autonomy accounting practices, the people who ran the company begin to look bad. As it is, Lynch and HP parted ways in May. Some reports said he was fired. Others said he left on his own, but either way, Autonomy sales did not, in the words of one report,"match expectations."
It's hard to say what happened, because as the New York Times reported, each one of the worlds' Big Four accounting firms has been over the books and two found they were fine and two found they weren't. Well, that's clear.
So, what's a beleaguered executive to do? Lynch hit the talk shows and cable news networks like CNBC to defend his former company. He wrote an open letter to the HP Board of Directors demanding immediate action on the allegations, and he started a website and blog to defend his honor and his former company.
The blog itself, which is called AutonomyAccounts.org, isn't anything fancy. It has a basic WordPress setup. The home page consists of Lynch's open letter to the HP Board and a statement from the former management team at Autonomy, which rejects the allegations in no uncertain terms:
"The former management team of Autonomy was shocked to see this statement today, and flatly rejects these allegations, which are false."
The About page says it's basically a page where the former Autonomy management team can tell its side of the story.
The rest of the site includes Lynch's defense of his company on the previously mentioned CNBC interview, a timeline history of Autonomy, biography of Lynch, and a form to contact Lynch directly, along with a lengthy legal statement.
Is it a case of Lynch defending his honor or protesting too much? It's hard to say, but I'm a bit surprised actually that his lawyers let him go this far. You would think he would have been told in no uncertain terms to just keep quiet and let the legal process play out.
Instead, Lynch is trying some good old fashioned content marketing. It's not great content, but it does provide him an outlet, like everyone else, to tell his story.
It's worth noting that at the HP Discover conference in Frankfurt this week, CEO Meg Whitman did allude to Autonomy. Computerworld reported that she stated HP was 100 percent committed to Autonomy and that it would be part of the HP growth strategy moving forward. That was probably an attempt to stop customers from bolting, as competitors step in and try to take advantage of customer insecurity and uncertainty around Autonomy due to the recent spate of bad news related to it.
For more information:
- see the New York Times article