back to article HPE court witness subjected to own LinkedIn page

A witness for HPE who turned up at the Autonomy trial claiming to have been the British firm’s chief architect was forced to look at his own Linkedin page and admit that his responsibilities were lesser than the job title would suggest. Barrister Richard Hill QC excruciatingly took Fernando Lucini through a series of internal …

  1. I Am Spartacus
    Trollface

    HP and Autonomy - the gift that just keeps on giving

    See title

  2. Snowy Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Ooops.

    The more I read about this the more I think HPE over paid not due to any fraud but due to them just paying way to much. Thinking they were buying a magic sparkle pony to fix their problems when they were just buying a pony.

    1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      Re: Ooops.

      I've always wondered how many billions HP/e could save if someone just picked up a copy of "Negotiating for Dummies" or "Due Diligence in Acquisitions For Dummies" from the local book shop...

      1. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: Ooops.

        And libraries.

        Man walks into a local library. "Hello, i'm from HP and do you have the book "Negotiating for Dummies?"

        Librarian : "We certainly do Sir, we have two copies on our shelves right now."

        Man : "Lovely, i'll take one now."

        Librarian : "There you are Sir. It's free to borrow for two weeks but i must add that if it's not returned by the due date there are fines to be paid of £0.50 per week."

        Man : "Excellent. Now who do i make this cheque for £5,000,000 out to?"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ooops.

          Man: (spots oracle employee entering library). How about £10m for both them?

          Librarian: sir, we lend books, not sell them. And with all that money we would just buy more.

          Man: My final offer is £25m for both books and a verbal promise not to buy any more copies

    2. chivo243 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Ooops.

      They have big heap buyers remorse...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ooops.

        The menhir market has a lot in common with the ‘big data’ market.

        You savvy?

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Ooops.

        "They have big heap buyers remorse..."

        ...due to a major heap overflow error.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Ooops.

      Thinking they were buying a magic sparkle pony to fix their problems when they were just buying a pony.

      They didn't get a pony. They go a steaming pile of pony droppings.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Ooops.

        While they massively overpaid, I did work with an Autonomy based service and it was pretty good - just not good enough to justify that valuation. So very very expensive droppings that might be frame or used as jewelry

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Ooops.

          "So very very expensive droppings that might be frame or used as jewelry"

          You just described a lot of opals (fossilised dino poo)

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Ooops.

      "I think HPE over paid not due to any fraud but due to them just paying way to much"

      Alternatively it was the CEO splashing the cash just to show what a big-shot CEO he was.

    5. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Ooops.

      I'm thinking of replacing the idiom "all sizzle and no steak"1 with "all sparkle and no pony".

      Unfortunately I never use "all sizzle and no steak", but it's fun to contemplate. Might also be abbreviated as "ASNP". Nerds could refer to "a pony-sparkle ratio asymptotically approaching zero".

      1Or in Texlish, "all hat and no cattle".

    6. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Ooops.

      "Thinking they were buying a magic sparkle pony to fix their problems when they were just buying a pony."

      The way they then try to blow off customers is amusing too - if you're not a customer.

      Putting _extremely_ shitty NVME sticks (worse performance than 2011-era sata SSDs) in their latest desktops and selling them as premium product, then accusing customers of lying when they present benchmarks showing how bad the products are, is a great way of winning repeat business.

      As is causing more than $100k of damage on one site due to substandard (abrasive) LTO5 tapes and then trying to disclaim all responsibility for the product on the basis of "expired warranty" - on a lifetime warranty product less than 3 years old.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow - could this be the first time LinkedIn was useful for anything ?

    (as title) ....

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Wow - could this be the first time LinkedIn was useful for anything ?

      Using it to disprove CV claims (and track down references the applicants DON'T want you to get hold of) is about the only use for it.

      and they still haven't heard of GDPR.

  4. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Who actually believes LinkedIn, anyway?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      HP and their lawyers?

      I prefer to stick to the Easter bunny, more believable and a lot less spam.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Who believes LinkedIn?

      This guy apparently if the obviously fake page is still up there after all this time.

      Now that the truth is out he may find it hard to get another position of a similar grade in future.

    3. chivo243 Silver badge
      Angel

      We have a big laugh in our office at the great fiction we read there. There are some very imaginative titles and work histories presented there. I love it how colleagues long since gone still work with us.

      1. Jonathon Green

        To be fair I probably appear on LinkedIn as working for a company I left ages ago (quite possibly on which doesn’t exist any more) - not out of dishonesty but because I decided it was a waste of effort and haven’t so much as logged in for longer thanI can recall...

      2. JoMe

        That could be due to recreating their page on moving...

  5. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    It gets better and better.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Finally

    "The majority of Lucini’s evidence consisted of him saying he wasn’t involved at a high enough level in Autonomy’s decision making to shed light on why the company struck certain deals or bought certain products "

    So HPE's finally uncovered some genuine fraud in Autonomy then?

    How did HPE not spot that they were putting a junior staff member on the stand?

    Surely Lucini realized the game would be up if he actually testified? That his former employers might question who is this "senior" person no one has ever heard of?

    Also...would it be possible for ElReg to commit too at least a weekly update? For those of us who are desperate for the latest giggles...

    1. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Finally

      Starting to think this whole thing is some kind of internal power struggle of newer management shining a spot light on older inept management at the expense of the rest the world thinking both are clowns.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Finally

        Or the board kicking up dust to confuse the issue and deflect any possible shareholder lawsuit.

    2. chuBb.

      Re: Finally

      I would look forward to a friday autonomy giggle round up as much as an on call or bofh, sounds like HPE could really do with a BOFH led how to find your own arse with both hands course

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Finally

        "a BOFH led how to find your own arse with both hands course"

        The BOFH verson is how to find your own arse with a cattle prod.

    3. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Finally

      Not weekly. Rather, when there's something to report.

      Courts have holidays. I suspect the recent quiet spell in this story might have been Easter.

  7. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Trollface

    Random executions

    Can't we just save the taxpayers a bundle of time and money by randomly executing a selection of Autonomy and HPE executives who were involved in the deal? If that seems too capricious, why not just execute all of them pour encourager les autres?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Random executions

      If you’re unhappy with the taxpayer funding a little genuine comedy, I guess we may have to take this corporate legal thing private:

      - pay per view

      - a similar model to today BUT we will spice up the ending. Think of the coliseum only with either business people, lawyers or both confronted with wild animals. If necessary, the lawyers would be tranquillised to prevent any harm to the animals

      - for intellectual property cases, the coliseum ending would be moved to the beginning of the case to simplify the arguments.

      - if the wealth of source material begins to dry up, a business ethics arbitration system could be added for “finding” more court room “superstars”

      It may even have a knock on effect of making a little more ethical? Business I mean, not the wholesale slaughter of those found wanting for entertainment purposes...

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Random executions

      As much as I like the idea, one must not forget that this whole mess only concerns HPE, who is crying over the milk it itself spilled.

      So random executions may be a tad excessive for a private issue like that.

      Brexit, on the hand, has been mismanaged from the start. A few random executions in the lot of politicians that are responsible for that mess would be good.

    3. James Anderson Silver badge

      Re: Random executions

      Not costing the taxpayer a penny.

      Its a civil action and loser pays. On current form HP shareholders will be getting a smaller dividend next year.

      Nice to see the old country still has some concept of fairness and legal process. I expect HPE was banking on the current US system of "litigant with the most money wins".

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Random executions

        > I expect HPE was banking on the current US system of "litigant with the most money wins".

        That's a very long standing British Tradition which only occasionally gets upset. (same in the USA too)

        Law courts are not (and never have been - despite the claims to be) justice systems and them with the biggest pockets usually prevail.

    4. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: pour encourager...

      why not just execute all of them pour encourager les autres?

      Part of me likes your way of thinking but I'm not sure you fully grasped what Voltaire was getting at unless you meant the wider PHB diaspora

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: pour encourager...

        You could execute the company - BL style.

        But then the sociopathic mnanagement ends up in places like UK local government and HP Europe bringing the same world-beating class-leading structures with them.

        On second thought I prefer the first option

    5. Jonathon Green
      Go

      Re: Random executions

      Maybe a few of the lawyers, accountants, and auditors too?

    6. FozzyBear Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Random executions

      We could, but that's revealing the punch line without telling the joke.

    7. MJB7 Bronze badge

      Re: Random executions

      This is civil proceedings. It should cost the taxpayer nothing. The judge and the court building has to be paid for - but the court fees are supposed to cover that.

      Any shortfall is worth it for the amusement value, and I really want to read the judge's summing up:

      - is Mike Lynch an innocent Britsh entrepreneur, or a scheming lying bastard?

      - did Autonomy lose all that money because he defrauded HP or because HP are incompetent?

      - did he defraud HP?

      (Note that these questions are not entirely orthogonal, but they aren't the same question either.)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This isn’t as weird as you think..

    I worked at Autonomy in Cambridge for a number of years, and there’s certain things about the organisation that made it different. Firstly, the company was well known for throwing out grandiose job titles to mid-senior staff... so the technical lead on a product would publicly be the ‘CTO’ of that area. There were 2 or 3 ‘CTOs’ in the Cambridge office alone, but as pointed out here, they were several rungs down from the actual CTO. That said, Fernando was certainly among the most senior staff on the Cambridge site, and was an authority figure at Autonomy. HP haven’t plucked out a mid-level exec from obscurity and put him on the stand, lynch’s lawyers have just been able to take advantage of Autonomy’s peculiar organisational structure.

    Secondly, and more broadly, no one at Autonomy outside of the Mike Lynch’s closest inner circle really had any idea what was going beyond the day-to-day, everyone was kept in the dark on everything, to an extent which is actually difficult to convey. Autonomy traditionally hired as junior as possible and had very few experienced executives within the ranks, so no one even knew if they should be asking questions.. the only witnesses of any real value in this trial would be those on Invoke Capital’s board!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This isn’t as weird as you think..

      For your first point - grandiose job titles in lieu of more pay aren't uncommon. Where Lynch's defence tripped up Mr Lucini was in clearly identifying him as not being senior enough. He was happy to give his opinion on one item, while demonstrating a lack of awareness of the larger overall strategy. He may very well have been right that the $7.6m licence for Discover Engine wasn't justified - however, his lack of knowledge of the larger business makes this largely irrelevant as he isn't able to comment on things such as pending deals that might have justified the purchase of the product. Which significantly dents his credibility.

      For your second point, aren't you just highlighting that he was the wrong person to put on the stand?

      Regarding the case, I'm waiting to see what HPE has in terms of evidence to back up their claims that they didn't overpay and that the fraud they have uncovered merits the damages they seek. Putting up a lot of claims that are easy to dismiss isn't helping their credibility and the case does not appear to be building up to anything significant - at the moment Lynch hasn't had to provide any real defence of his actions. Maybe there was fraud but unless HP show something genuine, it looks like one giant comedy of errors with the most likely criminals in the case being HP witnesses.

      1. Delusional

        Re: This isn’t as weird as you think..

        @Anonymous Coward

        <<Regarding the case, I'm waiting to see what HPE has in terms of evidence to back up their claims that they didn't overpay and that the fraud they have uncovered merits the damages they seek.>>

        Uh? don't you mean 'in terms of evidence to back up their claims that they DID overpay'?????

        As for the evidence, that's already pretty clear: https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.cand.305114/gov.uscourts.cand.305114.419.0.pdf

        "the conspiracy also included CEO Mike Lynch, as well as Christopher “Stouffer” Egan, Peter Menell, Andy Kanter, and Steve Chamberlain, all executives at Autonomy."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This isn’t as weird as you think..

          "Uh? don't you mean 'in terms of evidence to back up their claims that they DID overpay'?????"

          HP (or at least Leo) suggested Autonomy were worth US$9bn-US$17bn to them and it was only the subsequent fraud that meant they had overpaid. The rest of the world thought they overpaid from their initial offer and never saw the value beyond their market capitalisation. And if HP acknowledge they overpaid, that leads to shareholder lawsuits...

          "As for the evidence, that's already pretty clear: https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.cand.305114/gov.uscourts.cand.305114.419.0.pdf"

          I was thinking of actual evidence rather than a US kangaroo court where US companies dictate the result... In these cases, if you're working for the non-US entity, you're either lucky enough to get off providing evidence for the prosecution (regardless of actual guilt) or you get landed with everything and plea bargain your way down to something vaguely acceptable. Your chances of fighting and winning these cases approaches zero.

          I have no doubt HP have been ripped off buying Autonomy, but so far it appears they bid high, that they didn't follow normal due diligence procedures to verify what they were buying and were panicked into the final decision by the fear of Oracle outbidding them rather than following typical acquisition processes. If that was down to Lynch telling Apotheker that the company was "pure play software" over a drink and a nice meal, HP are screwed.

          Instead, HP are trying to fend off a huge shareholder lawsuit for screwing up, so instead of chasing genuine fraud, they are trying to paint a picture to explain the missing billions and hopefully pin it on Lynch. And so far, HP's story doesn't add up.

          Pretending that a company will make an extra US$250-500m a year in revenue over the next 10-20 years but didn't because of "fraud" when you haven't checked the books and that your hoped for revenue increases implied significant growth leaves a lot of explaining to do.

          At a guess, HP appears to have accounted for US$4.5bn+ of the US$5bn fraud through overbidding and maybe, if you're optimistic, Lynch (or at least one or more people in Autonomy) was responsible for practices that accounted for the rest. And those Autonomy practices may not even turn out to have been fraud from a legal perspective.

          HP are spending a lot of money buying time.

  9. Ian Emery Silver badge

    When are HP going to admit they did the equivalent of a 1940's GI buying Tower Bridge??

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "claiming to have been the British firm’s chief architect was forced to look at his own Linkedin page and admit that he was no such thing"

    Somebody's LinkedIn page admits that they're less important than they claim? This must be a world first.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is it?

    Why is it that so many high level executive's skill set appears to be blaming others for stupid decisions and unrealistic expectations that are completely the fault of said executive?

  12. WireBug
    Windows

    lmao

    for you HP - https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/506936501775895336/

  13. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    As entertaining as it is...

    ...to watch a barrister tear apart an inadequately briefed witness, I must note the witness is a "technical marketer". Finding mendacity here is about as sporting as fishing in a barrel. With a hand grenade.

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