How is it that the blockbuster deals for acquiring software companies that rank highest in their markets spaces seem to end up smelling bad several months into the deals? The latest acquisition to take on taint was written about in the Wall Street Journal today, noting that HP Reports $8.8 Billion Charge on Accounting Misstatement at Autonomy. Not to dispute the fact that enterprise search megastars Fast (acquired by Microsoft) and Autonomy had some terrific search algorithms and huge presence in the enterprise market, there is a lot more to supporting search than the algorithms.
The fact that surrounding support services have always been essential requirements for making these two products successful in deployment has been well documented over the years. Hundreds of system integrators and partner companies to Microsoft and Autonomy do very well making these systems deliver the value that has never been attainable with just out-of-the-box installations. It takes a team of content, search and vocabulary management specialists to deliver excellent results. For any but the largest corporations, the costs and time to achieve full implementation have rarely been justifiable.
Many fine enterprise search products deliver high value at much more reasonable costs, and with much more efficient packaging, shorter deployment times and lower on-going overhead. Never to be ignored is that enterprise search must be accounted for as infrastructure. Without knowing where the accounting irregularities (also true with Fast) actually lay, I suspect that HP bought the brand and the prospective customer relationships only to discover that the real money was being made by partners and integrators, and the software itself was a loss leader. If Autonomy did not bring with it a solid service and integration operation with strong revenues and work in the pipeline, HP could not have gained what it bargained for in the purchase. I “know” nothing but these are my hunches.
Reflecting back on a couple of articles (If a Vendor Spends Enough… and Enterprise Search and Collaboration…) I wrote a couple of years ago, as Autonomy began hyping its enterprise search prowess in Information Week ads, it seems that marketing is all the magic it needed to reel in the biggest fish of all – a sale to HP.
HP and Autonomy Corporation announced the terms of a recommended transaction under which HP will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Autonomy for £25.50 ($42.11) per share in cash. The transaction was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both HP and Autonomy. The Autonomy board of directors also has unanimously recommended its shareholders accept the Offer. Based on the closing stock price of Autonomy on August 17, 2011, the consideration represents a one day premium to Autonomy shareholders of approximately 64 percent and a premium of approximately 58 percent to Autonomy’s prior one month average closing price. The transaction will be implemented by way of a takeover offer extended to all shareholders of Autonomy. A document containing the full details of the Offer will be dispatched as soon as practicable after the date of this release. The acquisition of Autonomy is expected to be completed by the end of calendar 2011. Founded in 1996, Autonomy is a provider of infrastructure software for the enterprise with a customer base of more than 25,000 global companies. Positions HP as leader in large and growing space‚Äî Autonomy has a strong position in the $20 billion enterprise information management space, which is growing at 8 percent annually and is uniquely positioned to continue growth within this space. Furthermore, key Autonomy assets would provide HP with the ability to reinvent the $55 billion business analytics software and services space, which is growing at 8 percent annually. Reasons for the acquisition were cited as‚Äî Complements HP’s existing technology portfolio; Provides differentiated IP for services and extensive vertical capabilities in key industries; Provides IPG a base for content management platforms; Enhances HP’s financial profile; as well as Autonomy should be accretive to HP’s earnings. http://www.hp.com/ http://www.autonomy.com/
Hewlett-Packard has long been a poster child for the application of people, process, and technology to content globalization solutions. The Gilbane case study on HP documented the company’s commitment to satisfying customers in their local langauges. The mandate for multilingual content was made clear by the then-VP of content and product data management: 90% of HP’s customers buy based on content, not on touching the product.
The importance of investment in content globalization solutions was driven home once again with HP’s announcement of quarterly earnings on Feb 19. Overall, the company posted a 38% increase in earnings and a 13% rise in revenue for its fiscal first quarter. Of note to our readers:
In its first quarter, H-P’s results were fueled by strong sales in its personal-computer division and robust sales overseas, particularly in markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China. International markets accounted for 69% of H-P’s revenue for the quarter.
Put these results together with customer buying patterns.
- 69% of the company’s revenues were in markets outside the US.
- 90% of customers buy based content, not on touching the product.
Can there be any more compelling reason to develop a multilingual content strategy? And invest in people, process, and technology to execute against it?