A spur for growth?
Beleaguered tech giant Hewlett Packard has announced the completion of its acquisition of UK information management company Autonomy.
This acquisition was controversial for several reasons, not least the price, which represented a large premium over Autonomy's share price at the time of the offer. HP's press release says the holders of 213,421,299 Autonomy shares (which represents 87.34 percent of all shares) agreed to sell to HP at a price of £25.50 per share. This comes to £5.4 billion so we're not sure where the total reported price of around $12 billion comes from.
Regardless it's a lot of money, especially for a company that only managed revenues of $870 million in 2010. Clearly this is a strategic bet on the area of business in which Autonomy operates, but that remains something of a mystery, with many people - ourselves included - not really having a clue what Autonomy does when the acquisition announcement was made.
So for ourselves, HEXUS readers and, presumably, the vast majority of Spurs fans, here are a couple of excerpts from the Autonomy website that summarise what it does. "Autonomy is a global leader in infrastructure software for the enterprise that helps organizations to derive meaning and value from their information, as well as mitigate the risks associated with those same assets."
But here's the juicy bit: "Its groundbreaking technology, developed by acknowledged world experts and covered by 170 patents, uses a unique combination of Bayesian Inference and Shannon's Information Theory to form a conceptual and contextual understanding of any piece of electronic data, including unstructured information, be it text, email, voice or video." Simple enough.
There's no doubting the explosion of data experienced over recent decades - much of it unstructured. While data mining has been a thriving industry for some time it's this focus on unstructured data that's most intriguing. Most information and content is by definition unstructured and, if Autonomy does what it claims, the ability to marshal and order that data would be a very valuable ability for many companies.
"We are committed to helping our customers solve their toughest IT challenges. The exploding growth of unstructured and structured data and unlocking its value is the single largest opportunity for consumers, businesses and governments," said Meg Whitman, HP president and CEO. "Autonomy significantly increases our capabilities to manage and extract meaning from that data to drive insight, foresight and better decision making."
The world's preeminent structured data company is Oracle, although IBM is pretty strong in this area too. Oracle boss Larry Ellison is famously antagonistic towards HP and the latter's strategy - apparently undiminished by the sacking of Leo Apotheker - of focusing ever more on enterprise software and services has served to rile him further.
Autonomy will remain semi-autonomous, operating as a separate business unit with founder Mike Lynch remaining at the helm and reporting into Whitman.
"This is a historic day for Autonomy, our employees and the customers we serve, as we combine HP's phenomenal assets and Autonomy's specialized skills to produce systems that handle all the information in the enterprise, regardless of the format it is in," said Lynch. "We are at the dawn of a new era when it is the ‘I' in IT that is changing, not just the ‘T.'"