Autonomy - a SAP play all over again?
I wouldn't listen to the Beeb on Autonomy -- Mike Lynch is a BBC Director. Shortly after that, the Beeb cut Autonomy a nice big check for their search technology. He also started appearing regularly on BBC Radio 4 business programs, where he rambled on somewhat incoherently and got a bit abrupt with Evan Davies.
Autonomy basically owns Enterprise Search, after their most capable competitor, FAST, was consumed by Microsoft and basically disappeared (I suspect that team got re-directed to work on Bing). The core search technology is basically a Bayesian inference engine, and it can do some very clever things, so long as you have enough money to keep paying consults to make it work, and enough cash to buy it disk space -- some of the indexes it generates can be 2-3x the size of the original dataset.
Autonomy has mercilessly applied this technology to legal discovery, by ramming the search engine into the Zantaz email archiving product it acquired. Although this combo is not cheap, it is way cheaper than employing hundreds of lawyers to do document review, so this has proven quite lucrative.
What is amazing about this deal is the valuation. Autonomy's core business can only scale by adding people -- it's a pro services company in disguise. You basically have to double the number of people to double the revenue. To make back $11Bn, you'd need to grow the company 10x. The chances of being able to scale the company that way are almost zero.
On the other hand, high complexity, highly expensive software that requires millions to integrate? Sounds like SAP...