Billionaire investor Mike Lynch has left the board of unicorn cybersecurity startup Darktrace as he faces fraud prices

Mike Lynch

  • British know-how entrepreneur and investor Mike Lynch was charged with conspiracy and fraud within the US final Friday.
  • The fees relate to the $11 billion sale of Lynch's software program agency to HP in 2011.
  • The billionaire has resigned from the board of unicorn safety startup, Darktrace, in addition to advisory positions with the Royal Society and the UK authorities.
  • His funding firm, Invoke Capital, and its portfolio startups stated it's enterprise as traditional, regardless of ties to Autonomy.

A outstanding British entrepreneur and investor, Mike Lynch, has resigned from the board of one of many UK's most promising unicorn startups after being charged with fraud within the US final Friday.

Filings on the UK's Firms Home on Tuesday confirmed Lynch's resignation from the board of Darktrace, a cybersecurity startup value $1.65 billion (£1.three billion).

The prison prices in opposition to Lynch and one other ex-Autonomy govt, Stephen Chamberlain, relate to the $11 billion sale of Lynch's software program firm Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard in 2011.

A Darktrace spokesman stated: "Mike Lynch is a visionary technologist and has been a useful advisor and mentor to Darktrace. He supplied to step down from the Board in order to not create a distraction for the corporate, however we stay very grateful for his recommendation and help."

Lynch was concerned with Darktrace by his funding firm Invoke Capital, which stays the startup's largest shareholder with a 41% stake. Enterprise Insider understands Lynch remains to be energetic with Invoke Capital, at the same time as he ostensibly distances himself from its most profitable portfolio firm.

Darktrace co-CEO Poppy Gustafsson

The Telegraph reported on Wednesday that Lynch would additionally step down from the board of one other Invoke-funded startup — Sophia Genetics. Moreover, he resigned final week from his advisory roles with the Royal Society and the UK authorities's council for science and know-how.

A Sophia spokesman confirmed that Lynch would relinquish his board seat on the finish of 2018, however stated this was unrelated to the US prices. He added: "Mike has been a incredible supporter and we thank him massively for his time on the board."

The billionaire remains to be concerned in different British startups funded by Invoke Capital. He'll hold his board positions at AI agency Luminance and fraud evaluation firm Function Area.

Lynch is accused of conspiring with fellow Autonomy executives to defraud HP

Meg Whitman

Lynch's established place in UK tech scene is beneath menace after the US Division of Justice filed 14 prices of fraud and conspiracy in opposition to him. The fees carry a most penalty of 20 years in jail, whereas US prosecutors would additionally wish to see Lynch quit the $815 million he constructed from the Autonomy sale.

It's anticipated that the case will go trial, though it is not clear whether or not Lynch will journey to the US voluntarily to struggle the case or face extradition.

The fees are the newest growth in a saga that has dragged on for six years. HP acquired Autonomy in 2011, and shortly afterwards accused its executives of inflating the agency's monetary efficiency, writing down its acquisition by $eight.eight billion. Autonomy's executives have all the time denied the accusations.

Autonomy's CFO Sushovan Hussain was convicted of fraud in April and is awaiting sentencing within the US.

Lynch's attorneys described the costs as a "travesty of justice" and "stale allegations." In a press release final week, they stated:

"There was no conspiracy at Autonomy and no fraud in opposition to HP for the DoJ to take up. HP has an extended historical past of failed acquisitions. Autonomy was merely the newest profitable firm it destroyed. HP has sought responsible Autonomy for its personal crippling errors, and has falsely accused Mike Lynch to cowl its personal tracks.

"Mike Lynch won't be a scapegoat for his or her failures. He has executed nothing improper and can vigorously defend the costs in opposition to him."

Lynch has all the time maintained that HP blamed Autonomy executives for its personal botched acquisition and integration course of. The US case notes that Lynch, as CEO, had final oversight of Autonomy's funds.

Lynch had been attributable to struggle a civil trial within the UK in March 2019, though it's doable that any US prison case will delay the British trial.

Lynch's funding agency and startups say it is enterprise as traditional

The way forward for Lynch's startups and his funding agency within the UK appears to be like unclear, partly because of his and colleagues' ties to Autonomy. On the very least, these deep connections may pose a reputational danger.

Invoke Capital's know-how lead, Pete Menell, was previously CTO of Autonomy, whereas its communications chief Vanessa Colomar had the identical job at Autonomy. Andrew Kanter, a non-exec at Invoke, was COO and authorized counsel at Autonomy, and holds board positions at Invoke portfolio startups Neurence, Darktrace, and Luminance.

Darktrace itself has even deeper hyperlinks to Autonomy. Its present co-chief executives, Nicole Eagan and Poppy Gustafsson, held senior positions at each Autonomy and Invoke Capital.

Learn extra: The unimaginable lifetime of Mike Lynch, the Cambridge educational who offered his search startup to HP for $11 billion

Invoke Capital and Darktrace, probably the most high-profile of Lynch's present initiatives, say enterprise is continuous as traditional. "It is rather a lot enterprise as traditional and there ought to be no influence on them," a spokesman stated. A supply near Darktrace stated Lynch hadn't been intently concerned with the startup of late, and stated the agency continued to do effectively.

Invoke Capital doesn't function like a conventional VC, with a closed pool of funding, and is as a substitute depending on a lot of establishments who stump up capital on demand, in addition to some Invoke companions who make investments.

A supply with information of the matter stated Invoke will not be depending on Lynch's funds. Even when the entrepreneur is compelled to forfeit his $815 million positive aspects from the Autonomy sale, the corporate can proceed working as traditional with its present undisclosed backers.

The corporate is registered within the British Virgin Islands and so doesn't have to file public accounts however, the spokesman stated, is determined by exterior funding from unnamed establishments. The corporate plans to proceed its funding exercise.

SEE ALSO: British tech billionaire Mike Lynch charged with fraud within the US over $11 billion Autonomy sale

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