Gloves-off PR: Oracle calls Autonomy CEO a liar

By Richi Jennings (@richi ). [Updated 13:40 UTC: added comment from Mike Simons] Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) has accused Autonomy (LON:AU) CEO, Mike Lynch, of either lying, or forgetfulness. In the continuing battle between Oracle and...

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By (@richi ).
[Updated 13:40 UTC: added comment from Mike Simons]

Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) has accused Autonomy (LON:AU) CEO, Mike Lynch, of either lying, or forgetfulness. In the continuing battle between Oracle and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), it seems Larry Ellison has found another way to get under HP's skin.

  • On the one hand, how unseemly that these three tech titans should be flinging mud like this.
  • On The Other Hand, sit back and break out the popcorn.

Plus, today's skateboarding duck: Join with Russell Grant and Roseanne Barr on Friday to send a simple, yet powerful message...


Michael J. de la Merced reports:
In an unusual press release issued on Wednesday, Oracle took exception to comments made by...Mike Lynch. Soon after the H.P. deal was announced, Oracle announced that it had turned down the chance to bid for Autonomy. ... Lynch went so far as to call Oracle’s account “inaccurate”.
...
Oracle’s response: “Either Mr. Lynch has a very poor memory or he’s lying.” ... For Mr. Ellison, fighting with H.P. is a bit personal. more.png


Chris Mellor adds:
Oracle says that Lynch met Oracle's head of mergers and acquisitions...[and] Mark Hurd at 11am on...April Fools' Day. ... Lynch was accompanied by...company sale banker Frank Quattrone...who helped sell 3PAR to HP.
...
Lynch responded yesterday to this, and said yes, he had met the two men, but it was not an Autonomy shopping session. ... Oracle yesterday bluntly described Lynch's version of events as "another whopper." ... An Autonomy spokesperson responded..."In essence that's not true." more.png


Larry Ellison snorts (at least we assume he wrote this):
Mike Lynch continues to insist that Autonomy was never ‘shopped’ to Oracle. But now at least he remembers and admits to meeting with Oracle. ... Lynch insists that it was a purely technical meeting. ... Interesting, but not true.
...
After the sales pitch was over, Oracle refused to make an offer because Autonomy’s current market value of $6 billion was way too high. ... Yesterday, the Autonomy CEO did not remember having any meeting. ... Today, he remembers the April meeting and inaccurately describes [it].  more.png


Nick Farrell has background on the war of words:
This is deeply embarrassing for both Lynch and Apotheker because it confirms HP paid nearly double [$11.7 billion] what Oracle had said was too expensive [$6 billion]. ... Lynch was furious and denied ever  talking to [Oracle]. Then he accused Oracle of "being inaccurate"...a polite way of saying "Oracle tells Porkies".
...
Oracle is not an outfit that will let a comment like that slide.  more.png


And Mike Simons tells us why it matters:
You’ve got to hand it to Oracle. They don’t mind who they slap.
...
[It's an] unprecedented attack on Mike Lynch...[which] has been dismissed by some...as “handbags at dawn”. It is more serious than that...it raises issues of corporate governance and transparency.
...
All this matters to CIOs, to IT directors and to their staff. ... Poor corporate governance and overweening egos damage companies and their customers.  more.png


But Dennis Howlett sounds slightly sceptical:
Ouch - but then...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 wonder the extent that [Oracle] might be unintentionally throwing HP a get out of jail card. ... If Lynch is in fact lying then it opens the door for HP to back away from the Autonomy deal.
...
Either way...Oracle has scored a hit that both HP and Autonomy must regard as embarrassing. Nice timing. ... [This] can only work wonders in terrifying the financial analysts covering HP.  more.png


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Richi Jennings Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. His writing has previously won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.