Tuesday, November 6, 2007
[Nov 23, 2005] Here today....gone tomorrow!
(Reproduced from the Original Silicon Thoughts on Yahoo! 360)
My friend Sean had a pretty emotional post regarding our ex-company Verity being acquired by smaller competitor Autonomy, Inc. I have pretty strong reactions too. I enjoyed working closely with many of the folks in the picture above, and the VRTY ticker kept me awake many a night (for many different reasons :-))
I spent almost 5 years of my life trying to up-end Autonomy. It is fair to say that we really did accomplish what we set out to do - leapfrog in terms of technology, technical mindshare and, of course, market share. Autonomy was a darling of the dot com boom, reaching (I believe) over $6B in market cap.
At Verity, we built all sorts of technology to take the information retrieval world to a new level. Personalization, Democratic Taxonomies, Entity Extraction, Classification, Clustering, Federated Search, Relational Taxonomies, Parametric Search, ... - a string of capabilities that even the best web search companies are only now starting to externalize in services - we did all this in configurable and installable software in short order with small, smart teams. In hindsight, I think we were fantastic.
We went ahead in market capitalization, revenues, technology. Internally, they were the enemy, the ones to beat in every large enterprise deal - Google wasn't even in contention in those deals! We trashed Autonomy, wanted to win against them every time, ...
And Autonomy then acquires Verity!! Shock across the board (except the Verity and Autonomy boards :-))
It may make business sense - a combined company could be stronger in the enterprise space. But it hits below the belt that Verity is the acquiree, not the acquirer!!
Greater revenues, lots of cash....and lots of hurt! The joke is that Autonomy is using Verity's money to buy Verity.
I am sooo glad that I had already left Verity when this announcement was made!
I would have found it extremely hard to not walk into the CEO's office and quit right there and then! (Of course, my wife would have had something to say about that!)