Autonomy’s Lynch Hasn’t Heard From HP in Accounting Row

Autonomy Founder Mike Lynch
Autonomy founder Mike Lynch said in an interview with Bloomberg News at a conference in London today, “We haven’t heard anything from anybody.” Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Mike Lynch, the entrepreneur who sold Autonomy Corp. to Hewlett-Packard Co. last year, said he still hasn’t been contacted by the company since his team was accused of miscategorizing sales in an $8.8 billion writedown.

“We haven’t heard anything from anybody,” Lynch said in an interview with Bloomberg News at a conference in London today. “It’s a very strange way of doing things, but we’d love to hear more.”

Hewlett-Packard, which published the allegations on Nov. 20., hasn’t explained its claims that accounting errors contributed $5 billion to the writedown, Lynch said. Some of the controversy may be down to differences in international and U.S. accounting standards, he said.

Former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer Leo Apotheker, who bought Autonomy to diversify away from hardware and expand in software for businesses, left in 2011 after less than a year on the job following repeated strategy shifts and forecast cuts. Meg Whitman, who took over from him, said the misrepresentations caused Hewlett-Packard to value Autonomy incorrectly before the deal, which ultimately cost the Palo Alto, California-based company $11.1 billion.

“I absolutely reject what’s been said,” said Lynch, who said he was notified about the writedown with a text message. “I understand why they had to do a write off. I understand why they wanted to get it into that year.”

Losing Talent

Hewlett-Packard hasn’t contacted Lynch and has turned over all of its evidence to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Serious Fraud Office in the U.K., said a spokeswoman for the company who declined to comment further.

Hewlett-Packard rose as much as 5.7 percent to $14.59 in New York trading and was up 3.9 percent as of 9:59 a.m., valuing the company at $28.2 billion.

Lynch, who was fired from the combined company in May, said he had expected the writedown because Cambridge, England-based Autonomy had lost much of its talent under Hewlett-Packard.

The writedown was another blow for Hewlett-Packard, which is already suffering from management turmoil and slowdowns in its personal-computer, printer and technology-services businesses.

Lynch founded Autonomy as a spinoff from the University of Cambridge in 1996 and built it into the U.K.’s second-largest software company with customers including Coca-Cola Co.

Unstructured Data

His technology, enabling the search of a broad range of information, known as unstructured data, including e-mails, music, video and social networks such as Facebook Inc., became a hit with organizations seeking to organize increasing amounts of data and information.

John Schultz , Hewlett-Packard’s general counsel, has said among those practices, which accounted for $200 million in miscategorized or false revenue, was reselling Dell Inc. hardware and recording them as software revenue.

Still, Hewlett-Packard knew about this practice ahead of time and continued it after the acquisition, Lynch said.

“Meg is so off of my Christmas card list this year,” he said.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE