The SiliconAngle on HP’s Autonomy Writedown: Big Financial Blow, but It’s Still Solid Tech

Hewlett-Packard  created a stir this week after CEO Meg Whitman revealed that it made a $8.8 billion write down on Autonomy, a British software firm that the company acquired last year.  SiliconAngle founding editor Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins covered the story in a NewsDesk session earlier this week (full video below), defending Autonomy’s technology in spite of the emerging scandal.

The $11 billion buyout was announced in 2011 under the leadership Leo Apotheker, who had previously led SAP. But by the time the deal finalized, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman already took the reins of HP, an executive shuffle that resulted in what can only be deemed as an administrative fall out.

Many pundits, including SiliconAngle founder John Furrier, have said that HP should back away from the acquisition. But the board decided to push through regardless of the risks, supposedly because of the $170 million penalty that British regulators would have imposed for the withdrawal. Hopkins recalls that the $11 billion sale was considered overpriced by many, including Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

This week we’ve learned the extent of backlash from HP’s bad decision. Hopkins notes that one shareholder has already launched a lawsuit against the company, accusing it of issuing false statements and hiding information from investors. He says that this was bound to happen, but that it may be too early to start pointing fingers.

The acquisition was handled by not one, but several big name accounting firms, and senior management at both companies had a direct hand in the process.  It’s not clear who missed or covered up what, but one thing is for certain:  someone should make a point to unearth Autonomy’s skeletons.

The software maker missed revenue expectations by 90 percent in the first quarter after the takeover because its accounting practices didn’t comply with US regulations: the software maker exploited loopholes in EU law to artificially inflate its valuation, and apparently it didn’t put too much effort into concealing it.

The SEC and FBI have both launched investigations into the matter. Check out the full interview for Hopkins’s prediction about the possible outcome for HP and other details.