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HP solution provider partners see it differently. They blame the board of directors, past and present, for a good deal of the current troubles.
"The board is incompetent, incompetent, incompetent," said an HP solution provider CEO, who has pulled back on his commitment to the vendor over the last year. "It is as incompetent a leadership as you can get. I don't know why someone didn't stop the Autonomy acquisition. I don't know what they are doing over there. They need to write all this stuff off, go back to the drawing board and start over."
HP's board deserves a large amount of the blame for green-lighting the high-priced Autonomy acquisition, said another HP partner. "The Autonomy guys were laughing all the way to the bank," said the executive. "HP isn't even using Autonomy itself from what I know. It is inexcusable how much they paid for Autonomy."
HP acquired Autonomy in October of last year. The acquisition was initiated in August by then-CEO Apotheker in a bid to expand HP's miniscule software business. Apotheker was fired a little more than a month later, but his replacement, current CEO Whitman -- who was a member of the board that green-lighted the acquisition -- went ahead with the Autonomy deal. HP CFO Cathie Lesjak had reportedly objected to the Autonomy deal at the time, citing the high price tag.
Bruce Geier, CEO of Technology Integration Group (TIG), a $341 million national solution provider ranked at No. 69 on CRN's 2012 Solution Provider 500, said the allegations surrounding the Autonomy acquisition raises questions about how HP "did due diligence" related to the $11.1 billion Autonomy deal.
"This doesn't take away from the value they saw in Autonomy to start with," said Geier, who plans to add Autonomy software solutions to his portfolio next year. "The product is still there. It's just that they overpaid for it. There is a marketplace for Autonomy. Is it a game changer? No. But it does have some powerful dynamics. We'll have to see how it grows and what kind of play there is for it down the road. They have to reload. This isn't something they are going to come back quickly from, that's for sure."
Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech, a Holbrook, N.Y.-based HP enterprise partner, said he was not "surprised" by the HP Autonomy announcement.
"Sometimes when you get too big, there are too many layers in place that mask the real answers by the time it gets to the decision makers," he said. "Right now, they have to talk to the investors and explain how it happened and how it won't ever happen again. They have to look at how it will impact their own employees and their ability to retain employees. And they have to address the channel as to what the impact is going to be to the solution providers who back and support HP. They have a lot of communicating to do."