Autonomy in a class of its own

Software group Autonomy has defied the recession to post record profits - and seal a lucrative US acquisition.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The Cambridge-based company, which makes software that helps businesses archive and retrieve electronic data, posted pre-tax profits of $185m for 2008. That's up 51%, on revenues up 47% to $503m.

The good news continued with the announcement that Autonomy has acquired Intervowen, an American company making content management software, for $775m. This represents a firm footing in a market that's becoming increasingly lucrative, as the US government tightens regulations on storing and tracking company data.

Indeed, Autonomy is one of the few to be thriving because of the global financial crisis. Banks and other companies are now facing increased scrutiny of their electronic records, and are turning to Autonomy's software to ensure they comply. As a perfect example of its calibre, the company's products were actually instrumental in uncovering the dodgy dealings of Jerome Kerviel, the infamous rogue trader at France's Société Générale. ‘Across all industries you've got new regulations, as people realise that the smoking guns are always in emails,' said Mike Lynch, Autonomy's founder and chief exec (pictured). ‘Everyone's making sure they've got all their ducks in a row.'

Lynch himself is clearly no quack, and claims MT's Top 100 Entrepreneurs crown this month. His success makes a heartening story for such uncertain times. He started the company by borrowing £2k in 1991, becoming a paper billionaire briefly in 2000 before the dotcom bubble burst. He has rebuilt the company's fortunes, and shares in Autonomy were up 4.6% this morning at 1066 pence (that's one in the eye for its rivals) - valuing the business at around £2.3bn.

Lynch has cited President Barack Obama's inauguration speech, which mentioned a ‘watchful eye' on the markets, as reason to expect even more regulation in the next 12 months. Which suggests Autonomy will remain ahead of the pack for a while yet.

Read more about Mike Lynch's success at

In today's bulletin:

Morrisons dancing in the aisles after cracking Christmas
Autonomy in a class of its own
Hats off to British Gas?
Memory sticks just won't wash
MT's Saunders a winner

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