HP executives might have paid close attention to Deutsche Bank analyst Marc Geall's 2010 skeptical, 26-page report on Autonomy. Why? Because Geall worked at Autonomy until June of that year, running a software division for several years and then serving as head of investor relations and corporate strategy.
Geall, who today is head of corporate strategy for SAP, was highly critical of Autonomy's management and business model. The management structure, control and systems at Autonomy, he said, were "more representative of a start-up than a major global player." Senior management, while talented, lacked "bandwidth," he wrote. "This can lead to some decision paralysis as middle management is sometimes limited in its autonomy." Geall's report went on to say that Autonomy's investment in the business had lagged revenues, a problem that "could affect customer satisfaction towards the product and the value it delivers." He also described the company's service business as "too lean" and "risk[ed] falling short of standards demanded by customers."