Oracle skewers HP with alleged Autonomy 'shopping' gaffe

Oracle skewers HP with alleged Autonomy 'shopping' gaffe

Summary: Oracle scores another HP hit...this time Whitman has some explaining to do.


Colleagues have been wondering why Oracle has remained quiet about the demise of Léo Apotheker as CEO of HP and the appointment of Meg Whitman as a replacement. Now we know.

Earlier today, Oracle issued a statement which said:

"After HP agreed to acquire Autonomy for over $11.7 billion dollars, Oracle commented that Autonomy had been ‘shopped’ to Oracle as well, but Oracle wasn’t interested because the price was way too high.  Mike Lynch, Autonomy CEO, then publically denied that his company had been shopped to Oracle.  Specifically, Mr. Lynch said, “If some bank happened to come with us on a list, that is nothing to do with us.” Mr. Lynch then accused of Oracle of being ‘inaccurate’.   Either Mr. Lynch has a very poor memory or he’s lying.  ‘Some bank’ did not just happen to come to Oracle with Autonomy ‘on a list.’  The truth is that Mr. Lynch came to Oracle, along with his investment banker, Frank Quattrone, and met with Oracle’s head of M&A, Douglas Kehring and Oracle President Mark Hurd at 11 am on April 1, 2011.  After listening to Mr. Lynch’s PowerPoint slide sales pitch to sell Autonomy to Oracle, Mr. Kehring and Mr. Hurd told Mr. Lynch that with a current market value of $6 billion, Autonomy was already extremely over-priced.  The Lynch shopping visit to Oracle is easy to verify.  We still have his PowerPoint slides.”

Ouch - but then while Oracle claims it has the meeting slides (which are subsequently published here and here), the company does not offer original minutes of the meeting which can be verified as evidence of Autonomy's 'shopping trip.' We have to take their word for what transpired.

I have little doubt of the substance Oracle is inferring but in doing so, I wonder the extent that it might be unintentionally throwing HP a get out of jail card. Here is why. In the next missive, Oracle says of the meeting:

...[Autonomy] CEO Lynch insists that it was a purely technical meeting, limited to a ‘lively discussion of database technologies.’  Interesting, but not true.

If it is not true then that calls into question the integrity of the CEO of the company HP appears contractually committed to buying at $11 billion and to which Whitman has lent her explicit support. If Lynch is in fact lying then it opens the door for HP to back away from the Autonomy deal.

Either way, and in advance of Oracle Open World, Oracle has scored a hit that both HP and Autonomy must regard as embarrassing. Nice timing.

Also: Was Autonomy Shopped To Oracle?

Thinking ahead, one of the talking points among colleagues the last few days is how Oracle will try skewer HP in the post-Apotheker era. We now have a glimpse of that. What HP doesn't yet understand and what Oracle knows only too well - Oracle plays a game that anticipates at least the next two moves. If you're not playing the same game then chances are you will lose.

The Valley Mob will love this. Oracle is aligned with their flash mob/ADD mentality which can only work wonders in terrifying the financial analysts covering HP.

Topics: Oracle, Hewlett-Packard

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

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  • Another conniving liar ...

    ... would it save us all time if you simply listed those with integrity :-(
    • RE: Oracle skewers HP with alleged Autonomy 'shopping' gaffe


      Not possible. There AREN'T ANY!
  • RE: Oracle skewers HP with alleged Autonomy 'shopping' gaffe

    Spot on !

    But the 'outstanding' HP board will figure out the right thing....right ? ;)
    • RE: Oracle skewers HP with alleged Autonomy 'shopping' gaffe

      @sardire - of that I have no doubt ;)
    • RE: Oracle skewers HP with alleged Autonomy 'shopping' gaffe

      i Agree in board will figure out the right thing....right ?
  • RE: Oracle skewers HP with alleged Autonomy 'shopping' gaffe

    Mike Lynch's companies have a long tradition of being less than honest. When Blinkx (a spin-off from Autonomy) acquired Zango, an adware company, they essentially lied about it to the press, and have tried since to hide it under the name "Pinball". See for starters. Much of what I've since heard about the Blinkx management team leads to me to believe that honesty is not a virtue they value. And I have to imagine that this trait is inherited straight from their boss, Mike Lynch.
  • RE: Oracle skewers HP with alleged Autonomy 'shopping' gaffe

    Does it really matter if Autonomy was interested in selling to Oracle? Why should anybody care? Somebody explain to me why this article was written.
    • RE: Oracle skewers HP with alleged Autonomy 'shopping' gaffe

      @drobinow - because Oracle is trying to cripple HP...and that kinda matters
  • I know I am, but what are you?

    I feel great pity for the PR professionals in both companies. One of your writers called it the "Silicon Valley Art of War" -- but it's really just overblown egos trying to get in the last word. In the end, the reputation of both HP and Oracle will continue to sink because their leaders are taking this issue way too personally -- and way too public.

    Sounds like a bunch of spoiled rich kids fighting over the new girl in town. I keep waiting to see who grows up first...
    • RE: Oracle skewers HP with alleged Autonomy 'shopping' gaffe

      @MobilityStan Agree with writer!! (Why can't PR's do better some times they are not to smart or can't read what the publc hears)
      Stewart Finley
  • "Inferring" Or "Implying"?

    They are not the same thing.