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Mike Simons is the Editor of ComputerWorldUK and Techworld. He joined IDG in 2006 after almost a decade at Computer Weekly. An award winning IT and business journalist, Mike has a particularly focused on major IT projects and public sector IT. His fascination with the business and social impact of technology began at university, where he obtained an MSc at the Science Policy Research Unit of Sussex University.

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Oracle calls Autonomy's Mike Lynch a liar or an amnesiac

Adding to the misery at HP after sacking of former SAP CEO Leo Apotheker

Article comments

You’ve got to hand it to Oracle. They don’t mind who they slap. Whether Oracle's customers like their aggressive attitude to rival suppliers though remains to be seen.

Next week’s Oracle Openworld will be one place to find out. No doubt a statement yesterday from Oracle will be one of the talking points, alongside the proclamations about Fusion apps.

It was back in 2006 that Oracle proclaimed it was “halfway to Fusion,” so it will be interesting to see if it is really there this time.

That though is next week. The unprecedented attack on Mike Lynch is of more immediate interest. Oracle states:

"After HP agreed to acquire Autonomy for over $11.7 billion dollars, Oracle commented that Autonomy had been ‘shopped’ to Oracle as well, but Oracle wasn’t interested because the price was way too high. Mike Lynch, Autonomy CEO, then publically denied that his company had been shopped to Oracle. Specifically, Mr. Lynch said: “If some bank happened to come with us on a list, that is nothing to do with us.” Mr. Lynch then accused Oracle of being ‘inaccurate’."

So much for the scene-setting. Oracle continues:

"Either Mr. Lynch has a very poor memory or he’s lying. ‘Some bank’ did not just happen to come to Oracle with Autonomy ‘on a list.’ The truth is that Mr. Lynch came to Oracle, along with his investment banker, Frank Quattrone, and met with Oracle’s head of M&A, Douglas Kehring and Oracle president Mark Hurd at 11 am on April 1, 2011.

After listening to Mr Lynch’s PowerPoint slide sales pitch to sell Autonomy to Oracle, Mr Kehring and Mr Hurd told Mr Lynch that with a current market value of $6 billion, Autonomy was already extremely over-priced. The Lynch shopping visit to Oracle is easy to verify. We still have his PowerPoint slides.”

This statement has been dismissed by some on Twitter as “handbags at dawn”. It is more serious than that.

Firstly, it raises issues about corporate valuations and about what the money customers pay suppliers is spent on - product development or over-valued acquisitions.

Secondly, it raises issues of corporate governance and transparency. The Financial Times this morning had an interesting comment on governance in Silicon Valley. HP is a mess and Oracle is stirring up trouble, Yahoo is a mess, Cisco is a mess, the article states.

All this matters to CIOs, to IT directors and to their staff. Competition brings innovation. Poor corporate governance and overweening egos damage companies and their customers.

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