More Autonomy fallout: HP parts ways with iManage

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While corporate splits are the flavor of the week, there is also a lot of divestment going on as large IT vendors focus on their core business (or at least try to). Today's example sees HP divest itself of its iManage business.


iManage provides a work management solution that is targeted at legal, accounting, and financial services firms. iManage has some 3,000 customers around the world, including over 1,800 law firms. iManage itself was first acquired by content management vendor Interwoven in 2003, which was subsequently acquired by Autonomy in 2009. So when HP acquired Autonomy in August 2011, iManage was part of the deal. The Autonomy acquisition was seen as an absolute fiasco and saw HP claim that Autonomy's executives committed fraud and significant accounting "irregularities." The upshot was that HP paid far too much for the company and later took a write down of close to $10 billion related to Autonomy.

Litigation is still in progress, but it's fair to say that Autonomy isn't really a happy word in HP's corporate headquarters. That's not to say that some of the technology HP acquired alongside the business wasn't valuable, it just wasn't worth $12 billion dollars. Oops.

Anyway, for iManage, at least, the story comes full-circle today with news that the iManage leadership team has completed a buyout from HP for the purchase of the complete iManage business, including its brand, products, and services. iManage co-founder and current General Manager Neil Araujo is the CEO of the management-owned company. Rafiq Mohammadi, also a co-founder and former CTO of iManage, is returning to the company as Chief Scientist.

This is an interesting move for HP, which heralded Autonomy as its saving grace - offloading iManage, while only a small part of the Autonomy stable, indicates that they see the value that can be derived from Autonomy as more horizontal than vertical. In other words, Autonomy is a broad platform that can be applied to a number of different HP products and services, as well as sold as a standalone offering. iManage, on the other hand, has specific vertical applicability, and HP apparently isn't very focused on verticals.

According to iManage, the company is profitable and growing well. It claims that in its last full fiscal year under HP, iManage added one new customer on average every two business days. In terms of funding, the company is capitalized through a financial partnership with Bank of Montreal.

The interesting thing for iManage is the competitive environment it works in. While it is true that there aren't a massive number of companies focused on these specific verticals, that is likely to change as the space gets increasingly tight. One only needs to look at the investment that enterprise file sharing and synchronization (EFSS) vendors like Box and Egnyte are making in building an ecosystem. The idea being that third-party vendors with specific vertical experience can leverage those EFSS platforms to build vertically tailored offerings.

For today, however, it's a chance for iManage to celebrate their exit from the HP mothership and an extrication from the trainwreck that is Autonomy. It will be interesting to see what their future holds.

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