back to article Hits keep on coming: HP buys Autonomy for $11bn cash

HP has confirmed it is buying Cambridge-based enterprise software company Autonomy for $10.24bn (£6.2bn). The acquisition was half-confirmed during last night's conference call, when the ink giant said the two companies were "in talks". But a statement from Autonomy this morning said the two company boards had agreed a cash …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Another UK company gone

    A sad day. Autonomy and Arm are the only British Tech companies that have a global presence. I suppose the Autonomy board were either unable to raise capital to take the business further or just happy to cash in.

    1. Armando 123

      Or it could be

      that HP offered them so much money that they'd be fools to turn them down. The MS/Yahoo deal is probably still fresh in a lot of people's minds.

    2. Jean-Luc
      Thumb Down

      @Another UK company gone

      Better rephrased as

      "HP pays over the top for a company no one's heard about and makes a number of UK citizens very wealthy".

      There, corrected it for you.

  2. King Jack

    Put your Palms together..

    See title

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what the hell do Autonomy do?

    Surely a little detail wouldn't hurt.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Apart from having....

      a somewhat ironic name you mean?

      I went to their website earlier this morning, front page only, but I admit to being none the wiser.

      But then I was not educated at a Russell Group University, so natch I would not understand.

    2. Hydrazine


      I suggest that if you don't know what Autonomy does you may just be on the wrong website?

      1. screaminfakah
        Thumb Down


        So your the expert on all things at this site. I read the news here everyday and cant recall every reading anything on this company.

        I am sick of "techies" acting like god when in truth they are as ignorant as the next man.

        Rant off.

        Eventually the US is going to stop this monopoly thing happening in the US. It is killing the whole industry.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          "Eventually the US is going to stop this monopoly thing"

        2. kissingthecarpet

          I would hope

          that a technologist is not as "ignorant as the next man" about technology. Also "ignorance" implies "la la la boring not listening" type behaviour - a far cry from a mere lack of information.

          PS its "you're". Its not about spelling, its about meaning. There is a preview button, you know.

          1. commonsense

            I would hope too...

            I think you'll find that "It's not about spelling, it's about meaning"

          2. screaminfakah


            Having perfect grammar makes a person smarter than the next man. Huh.... I have always thought that language has been the biggest bottle neck for communication. Guess I was wrong.

            gess u showd me

            By saying ignorant I meant that you cant teach an old dog new tricks.

            My point was that buying up patents will just lead to the next ".com" type bubble blowing up and causing valuable people to be the next class to be poor while the behemoths take a small hit at the expense of everyday people. Eventually they will be held accountable!

        3. Goat Jam

          Me too

          I've been reading El Reg (A UK tech site) for a decade and I have not once seen an article about Autonomy (A UK tech company)

          To suddenly find that HP thinks that an up until now unheard of company is worth $11B comes as something of a surprise.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what the hell do Autonomy do?

      "Surely a little detail wouldn't hurt."

      When "enterprise search" was mentioned I started to recall something about them buying Yahoo!'s enterprise search business or something. Proprietary bastions of the search business getting swallowed up by behemoths - I hope they didn't cook the books like a certain now-Microsoft-owned company in order to look more valuable than they are.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I posted on the....

    "Apotheker prescribes transformation elixir for HP" article forum that what exactly would stop HP from just shipping the operation to the US (India / China...) 12-18 months down the line. Its "just" IP plus FTE jobs. No problem in shipping that sort of function anywhere. That's really good for Cambridge and the UK.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What do they do

    They provide enterprise wide document/information managment systems


  6. TonyHoyle

    What they do

    Is get bought by HP, just as it does a Nokia...

    It's a pity, I like HP kit.. having no more of it available means going elsewhere. <shudder> dell?

  7. TonyHoyle

    Actually, looking at their website

    They say they provide 'enterprise search'. So a google competitor then.. good luck with that.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    @Tony Hoyle re 'enterprise search'

    Not really a google competitor.

    google are an advertising agency with a sideline in variable quality not always reliable and certainly not very privacy-friendly technology.

    Autonomy started life claiming they had applications that could extract meaning from raw text (good luck with *that*). From there, via various rounds of venture capital funding and iirc the occasional near-collapse, they have progressed into an enterprise document management outfit, the kind of thing that News International would find really useful round about now.

    It is not difficult to extract meaning from text. Or do I mean it is now difficult to extract meaning from text. Or both. Or neither.

    But if all you want to do is reliably find documents relating to a certain subject area, that's probably more plausible.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "Its not about spelling, its about meaning."

    True, but sometimes the two are difficult to separate.

    E.g. earlier in this topic we had

    It is now difficult to extract meaning from text.


    It is not difficult to extract meaning from text.

    One character different, both perfectly valid, but completely different meanings.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    10.24 Billion USD? WTF!

    10.24 billion for 1900 Autonomy employees.

    Are those 1900 all Einstein clones?

    I doubt it.

    And I doubt if they'll all stick around after they've picked up their proceeds from the sale.

    Good luck to them I say, shame about the zero-payrise for the HP staff.

  11. Andy Davies

    Autonomy - who?

    According to the Beeb, Autonomy is the UK's largest software company. During a career covering over 40 years I worked for most of the leading software companies in the UK and Autonomy was - er none of them, like several other readers I have never heard of them.

    As to extracting meaning from text - I spent part of yesterday installing ms SQL Server 2000 on a 'retro' computer (HP as it happens) - 'full text search' was installed by default.

    AndyD 8-)#

  12. John 62

    what does Autonomy do?

    Sponsors Tottenham Hotspur.

  13. El Limerino

    Autonomy - a SAP play all over again?

    I wouldn't listen to the Beeb on Autonomy -- Mike Lynch is a BBC Director. Shortly after that, the Beeb cut Autonomy a nice big check for their search technology. He also started appearing regularly on BBC Radio 4 business programs, where he rambled on somewhat incoherently and got a bit abrupt with Evan Davies.

    Autonomy basically owns Enterprise Search, after their most capable competitor, FAST, was consumed by Microsoft and basically disappeared (I suspect that team got re-directed to work on Bing). The core search technology is basically a Bayesian inference engine, and it can do some very clever things, so long as you have enough money to keep paying consults to make it work, and enough cash to buy it disk space -- some of the indexes it generates can be 2-3x the size of the original dataset.

    Autonomy has mercilessly applied this technology to legal discovery, by ramming the search engine into the Zantaz email archiving product it acquired. Although this combo is not cheap, it is way cheaper than employing hundreds of lawyers to do document review, so this has proven quite lucrative.

    What is amazing about this deal is the valuation. Autonomy's core business can only scale by adding people -- it's a pro services company in disguise. You basically have to double the number of people to double the revenue. To make back $11Bn, you'd need to grow the company 10x. The chances of being able to scale the company that way are almost zero.

    On the other hand, high complexity, highly expensive software that requires millions to integrate? Sounds like SAP...

  14. Melanie Winiger

    El Limerino

    I had to laugh:

    "On the other hand, high complexity, highly expensive software that requires millions to integrate? Sounds like SAP..."

    Nice one!

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