The ex-university prof who built a tech giant

DR MIKE Lynch, 45, began working on the mathematics behind Autonomy’s software in the early 1990s, when he was writing his post-doctoral thesis at Cambridge University.

He was studying the work of an 18th Century vicar, Thomas Bayes, who spent his life trying to prove the existence of God through mathematics.

“He never succeeded,” Lynch once quipped, “although he probably has an answer by now”.

In 1996, Lynch founded Autonomy, a firm he has since transformed into a FTSE 100 giant with 16,000 clients that range from Nestle and the BBC to NASA and the US Department of Homeland Security.

Simply put, the technology enables computers to understand human interaction. It can spot when traders are perpetuating a fraud, or when a call centre operative is giving a customer the wrong answer.

Lynch, born to a fireman father in Ireland in 1965, was brought up in Essex, where he won a scholarship to the nearby public school Bancroft’s.

Quintessentially English and incredibly low-key, he cuts a strange figure on the global tech stage, which is dominated by brash Americans in the mould of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.