When I wrote “we lost Autonomy to HP” at the end of my post on Wednesday I was a little worried that the statement might be too strong. Since then we have heard that Mike Lynch is now leaving Autonomy/HP, that most of his senior management have already departed since the HP acquired the business a year ago, and that revenues at Autonomy have been below expectations for the last couple of quarters.
There was hope that the HP deal might not make too much difference and that Autonomy would continue to contribute strongly to the UK tech scene by maintaining a significant technology and management presence here. That hasn’t happened, and perhaps predictably Autonomy is now most definitely lost to the UK.
This is a shame because large indigenous tech firms are an important part of the startup ecosystem. Their employees make great founders, they create wealth that flows back into the startup ecosystem, they have a greater propensity to acquire local companies, they keep the City interested in tech, and perhaps most importantly, they give everyone hope.
This is in no way a criticism of Autonomy. HP’s offer of $11bn was a 64% premium to the share price at the time and I imagine Autonomy’s shareholders felt they had little choice but to accept. After all many of them are fund managers who look after our pensions and there job is to make money, not build national champions.
I think we can be optimistic though, because there are a bunch of younger companies coming through the London and European scenes that have the potential to step into the gap left by Autonomy. One of those his Huddle, who this morning announced another big fundraising round.