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Mike Lynch should be fêted, not booed

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Autonomy founder Mike Lynch has hit back against those who have branded him a sell-out for his forthcoming $10bn deal with Hewlett-Packard – he is entirely right to, they’ve got it all wrong.

“The mistake in that thinking is a fundamental misunderstanding of technology,” Mike Lynch explained. “If I have the type of technology Autonomy does, which is cutting edge advanced stuff, you can’t move that R&D. The people who sit there doing it are the world experts.

“They have family here. It is not like a biscuit factory and you buy a custard cream making machine in Kentucky and then you run it twice as fast. The people saying these things are rather out of touch with how advanced software works.”

The critics’ point is moot. This really is not a bad deal for British business. Autonomy should not become the poster-child for the British-companies-should-stay-British lobby.

To start, HP is offering to buy Autonomy at a 79 per cent share premium – surely enough to make keep any investor more than happy with the deal. This isn’t a hostile takeover by HP. This isn’t evil Kraft taking over Cadbury. 

Secondly, HP has committed itself to keeping Autonomy as an entirely-separate division of HP – this should go some way to ensuring Autonomy retains its enterprising spirit and autonomy (excuse the pun). The company will not be hoovered-up into the HP behemoth, never to be seen again. Mike Lynch will still be there.

Finally, HP have agreed that Autonomy will remain in Cambridge. Jobs will not be lost, the local economy will not suffer, Autonomy will keep ticking along just fine. If anything, being backed by HP will give Autonomy more power to grow further. From distribution channels to technology, there will be synergies for both companies to benefit from.

The HP-Autonomy deal is good for British enterprise. After the deal has been signed, Autonomy will continue be seen as a great British success story. Why? Just because it is.

The Mike Lynch / Autonomy story will serve to provide inspiration for other entrepreneurs to start up and grow other $10bn companies. Mike Lynch should be fêted, not booed. 

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