Having shredded one Cambridge UK technology business in Autonomy, HP has started on its stablemate Aurasma with a number of redundancies in Cambridge, London and the US.
A round of voluntary redundancies is likely to be followed by compulsory lay-offs, Business Weekly has been told. No exact numbers for the job cuts have been released and an Aurasma spokesperson has failed to respond to our request for information.
HP is also set to axe Aurasma’s strategy of allowing partners to use its augmented reality technology free of charge to gain traction. The new model will see Aurasma strictly charged for and delivered on the back of other HP product sales, it is understood.
Cambridge has found a silver lining from the heart of this cloud. A third Cambridge company with links to former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch – Featurespace, which creates fraud-busting and market analysis software – has immediately profited from the Aurasma cull.
Martina King, who walked out as CEO of Aurasma a few months after HP’s takeover, was headhunted by Dr Lynch to steer the fortunes of Featurespace where he is on the board as well as being a significant investor.
As CEO King has now reassembled the team that created Aurasma from within Autonomy by recruiting Matt Mills, James MacDonald Turner and Jake Grave to help Featurespace build both its global sales and creative propositions.
Mills quit Aurasma to join King at Featurespace while the other two took voluntary redundancy from Aurasma. Business Weekly was told King was in back to back strategy meetings when we called for comment. Featurespace recently moved into the Broers Building in Cambridge where Dr Lynch is locating his new VC fund, Invoke. He also has his former Autonomy lieutenants in the Invoke camp in Cambridge.
Dr Lynch believes that Featurespace has serious potential internationally. An informed source told Business Weekly that Featurespace, under King’s leadership, was operating on a brief from Dr Lynch to scale-up the company’s worldwide growth.
Business Weekly understands that King and former CEO David Excell could be set to clinch two landmark deals for Featurespace that would significantly accelerate global scale-up. There could also be further developments on the company’s software capabilities.
Featurespace’s early markets have been dominated by customers in the gaming and lottery markets but I understand that is about to change as the former Aurasma sales team nudge the technology into a broader range of markets. There was also a mixture of “anger and derision” at HP for failing to understand the model that King and the team adopted for the infant Aurasma – one also used by Yahoo, Google and Facebook in their early days – of getting a new product into the hands of as many partners as possible (consumers and media) – free of charge in a bid to accelerate traction.
One ex-Aurasma staff member told me: “The policy worked. Aurasma would not have gained so many evangelists so quickly had it tried to charge every customer for the platform from the very outset. We converted scores of accounts from our model – just as other famous global brands have done with groundbreaking but unknown technology.”