Mike Lynch, the co-founder of a software company sold to Hewlett-Packard for $11 billion, has co-founded a venture capital company.
So is that where (some of) Hewlett-Packard's money ended up?
Mike Lynch, arguably Europe's greatest technology entrepreneur in financial terms, has resurfaced as a co-founder of Invoke Capital, a venture capital fund with the aim of bringing European technology to global significance.
For those of you who are struggling to remember who Mike Lynch is: He is the Cambridge mathematics graduate who co-founded Autonomy, a specialist in the computerized search of unstructured data using adaptive pattern recognition and Bayesian statistics. He led Autonomy as CEO before selling it to Hewlett-Packard Co. for about $11 billion in October 2011. HP wrote off $8.8 billion of the value of the deal the following year, and Lynch left the company amid claims that Autonomy's accounts prior to the sale had been misrepresented, claims that have been denied. (See: Top 10 tech blunders of 2012.)
And now Lynch, along with a number of former colleagues from Autonomy, has raised $1 billion for Invoke Capital to invest. The first startup to benefit from Invoke's money is Darktrace Ltd., a cyber security company, based on mathematical research out of the University of Cambridge.
Darktrace's technology is based on a new branch of Recursive Bayesian Estimation theory. Does that sound familiar? Rather than trying to lock down all aspects of software to keep security threats out, Darktrace operates on the premise that the network has already been infiltrated and assesses risks including human operators.
And Invoke is different from most venture capital firms. It has a dedicated R&D division based in Cambridge that is assessing problems facing industry and looking for researchers who might have solutions. In particular, Invoke wants to focus on fundamental technology being developed in Europe and help it scale across multiple global markets in areas including genomics, security, pattern recognition, signal processing, and big-data.
Europe has long had the reputation of producing excellent academic research at its extensive network of world-class universities but of struggling to turn that research into commercial success. Such success that Europe does produce is often snapped up at a low price by foreign giants. Autonomy was obviously an exception to that; and now Invoke, with money to spend, intends to be part of a developing financial infrastructure that wants European technology to earn yet more off-continent revenue.