Long Before HP Deal, Autonomy’s Red Flags

CAMBRIDGE, England — When Autonomy Corp. was starting up in this historic university town, founder Mike Lynch stuck a sign on an office door that read “Authorized Personnel Only.” Behind the door, he told visitors, were 500 engineers working on “hush-hush” projects.

The door, in fact, led to a broom closet, Mr. Lynch recounted in a 2010 speech. By then, Autonomy had grown from its founding in 1996 to one of Europe’s largest and fastest-growing software companies. Hewlett-Packard Co. bought it in October 2011 for more than $11 billion.

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