As the public feud between Hewlett-Packard and Autonomy's former CEO Mike Lynch heats up, more details are emerging on the man and the corporate culture he built at before HP spent $11.1 billion to acquire it.
Some of it is fun. Much of it is harsh.
For instance, Lynch was a fan of fictional spy James Bond and peppered the office, and his life, with Bond references. He named Autonomy's conference rooms after Bond villains like Dr. No and Goldfinger, and he drove a Bond-like sports car, an Aston Martin.
He also stocked a fish tank in the reception area of the Cambridge headquarters with piranhas. The vicious fish were featured in the 1967 Bond film You Only Live Twice.
Former employees have described Lynch as a domineering man, not above berating or humiliating people and fostering a culture where other top execs did the same. There are tales of a marketing exec who was forced to pick up cigarette butts on the sidewalks outside the Cambridge office and another told to buy underwear for the finance chief on a business trip, reports the Wall Street Journal.
From as far back as 2008, employees on job rating site Glassdoor called senior management "evil." In 2009, one described the environment as "bullying and intimidation" with an "almost messiah approach to company philosophy - there shall be no opinion/thoughts/views/ other than the CEO."
If Lynch does view himself as a cross between James Bond and a James Bond villain, then it looks like this scuffle with HP is going to be full of drama for months, maybe years, to come.
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