Autonomy picks up piece of rock from Iron Mountain

Contact: Brenon Daly, Nick Patience

Announcing its first acquisition in almost a year, Autonomy Corp has picked up Iron Mountain’s digital assets in a surprisingly rich purchase of a castoff business. Autonomy will pay $380m in cash for the units, which include backup and recovery, e-discovery and digital-archiving software. The transaction effectively unwinds Iron Mountain’s acquisitions of Mimosa Systems and Stratify, deals the records giant had done as a hedge against the digitization of information. As my colleague Nick Patience writes in his report on the move in tonight’s Daily 451, the divestiture puts Iron Mountain almost entirely back in the business of storing cardboard boxes.

For Autonomy, we suspect that the main reason for the purchase is the division’s customer base of 6,000 as well as the six petabytes of data those customers have stored. (Autonomy already has e-discovery and archiving technology, so would be less interested in those Iron Mountain products.) Viewed in that light, the purchase price of $380m, or more than 2.5 times projected revenue in 2011, seems a bit steep. That’s particularly true when we consider that Iron Mountain was under the gun from big shareholders to dump the digital division. On the news, Iron Mountain shares inched a bit higher Monday afternoon, and have now added one-third in value since the beginning of the year.