Does anyone remember Mike Lynch? Autonomy’s Mike Lynch, the one that bailed out of HP when Autonomy figures started heading south just after it was bought by HP? According to reports that are appearing on the financial news wires, Mike Lynch is about to set up a technology investment fund.
It is impossible to stick to even the financial news wires on this, because there is no independent verification of this outside of Bloomberg -- one of the main financial news services -- and even Bloomberg is only citing people that are close to the action.
Lynch and Autonomy and HP
It’s not that this is such a big deal when you really think about it. Lynch pocketed an estimated US$ 800 million when HP decided that it was going to pay US$ 10.2 billion for Autonomy, or more specifically, for the IDOL server technology.
IDOL, if you’re not familiar with it, offers companies the ability to search, find and use information in context. With the explosion in the use of social technologies for business, and the massive potential for software that can place this in context, the value of IDOL cannot be overestimated.
When Mike Lynch left Autonomy some months ago no one ever said why. In the meantime, there have been reports of problems between the Old Boss and the New Boss, with the Old Boss finally throwing in the towel, not because he wouldn’t stand by IDOL, but because it was just to difficult to integrate the business cultures of two companies that basically come from different planets.
But enough of that, where is all this going? To be clear about it -- and I can only express personal observations here, so let’s be clear about that, too -- no one officially, or probably even privately, knows what Mike Lynch is going to do.
Autonomy, Lynch and IT
On a recent visit to the area where Autonomy came from -- Cambridge in the UK -- people were openly talking about this and the possibility that Lynch would set up a home-grown tech fund away from the US IT industry and the US way of doing business. After all, Lynch is a local boy, and the UK way of doing things probably works better for him
Keep in mind also that most of the really big players in the UK IT industry are only a 90 minute train ride away in London, not a ten hour flight away on the US west coast.
London in the UK is also beginning to throb as an IT growth center; things are difficult at the moment with the European economy where it is, but current EU estimates say in two years everyone will be singing again.
It is also fed by Dublin, Ireland -- only a 40 minute flight away -- where the Irish government offers massive tax relief to IT companies setting up there, and which has resulted in a data center for Google, Intel chip plants and a host of artisan, micro-enterprises (just pause here to think about the origins of Microsoft).
So while Lynch has made no comment whatsoever about a tech fund, he has both the knowledge -- remember he was directly involved in developing IDOL -- the money and the location.
The question should be not whether Mike Lynch launches a tech fund or not, but rather, if he doesn’t, why not? We’ll be watching this carefully.