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(Fox Business)   The lesson for HP in the $8.8 billion Autonomy disaster? Maybe next time you don't give your top job to the guy who got canned at another tech company for incomptence after only a year on the job   (foxbusiness.com) divider line 66
    More: Obvious, CEO Leo Apotheker, Hewlett-Packard, liberty, Teary-Eyed, Larry Ellison, Marc Andreessen, Drexel University, NASDAQ Composite  
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3371 clicks; posted to Business » on 21 Nov 2012 at 2:02 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-21 10:40:09 AM  
unleashthefanboy.s3.amazonaws.com
Fox: This joint venture was your idea and the consultants love it. But I'm not convinced: Autonomy Inc. has grown by 8% annually like clockwork. Their revenue stream must be off the books, maybe even illegal.

cdn.inquisitr.com
Leo: Ok, let's do it.

onemorecup.files.wordpress.com
 
2012-11-21 10:44:38 AM  
Yeah, its a screw up, but then Facebook paid $1B for Instagram, eBay paid $2.7B for Skype. The real stupid decisions have been to abandon the consumer market, smothering its pad line in the cradle, and floating selling off the PC division.

HP has been known in the past for its solid engineering, devices that may not be stylish, but are rock solid dependable, accurate, and incorporating the best engineering practices. Instead, this has been abandoned for short term gains, with the result being the company puts out garbage.

I don't know about their B2B products, but their recent printer models have been an embarrassment, not fit to prop open a door, let alone actually print something.
 
2012-11-21 10:46:40 AM  
I wish I could get paid $25 million to be incompetent for 10 months
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-11-21 10:48:05 AM  
I wasn't paying close attention to this. The article mentions a lot of board turnover. Did the board that approved the purchase have ties to the overvalued company?
 
2012-11-21 10:51:02 AM  

czei: Yeah, its a screw up, but then Facebook paid $1B for Instagram, eBay paid $2.7B for Skype


Well, sure, but Instagram and Skype have users. Autonomy didn't have that. I had a couple of tech buddies run into it back in 2000 and after the training they both knew it was just a pile of BS. It didn't actually do anything worthwhile.

Of course, the president of our IT company saw it, decided we should copy it, and I'm not kidding: Start selling disk space in our "datacenter" to companies. The company went out of business. For his next venture he cured diabetes. He's in prison right now.
 
2012-11-21 10:58:23 AM  
Isn't incompetent management and inept decision making one of the main selling points of HP? I was under the impression that if you bought their stock, you could take comfort in the fact that you knew that's what you were getting and didn't have to worry about getting blindsided by it.
 
2012-11-21 11:23:45 AM  

MaudlinMutantMollusk: I wish I could get paid $25 million to be incompetent for 10 months


www.moviequotesandmore.com

Seriously. A nutless monkey could do your job.
 
2012-11-21 11:35:17 AM  
You might be a bad manager if a company called SAP cans you for being an asshole to your staff.
 
2012-11-21 11:36:02 AM  

czei: Yeah, its a screw up, but then Facebook paid $1B for Instagram, eBay paid $2.7B for Skype. The real stupid decisions have been to abandon the consumer market, smothering its pad line in the cradle, and floating selling off the PC division.

HP has been known in the past for its solid engineering, devices that may not be stylish, but are rock solid dependable, accurate, and incorporating the best engineering practices. Instead, this has been abandoned for short term gains, with the result being the company puts out garbage.

I don't know about their B2B products, but their recent printer models have been an embarrassment, not fit to prop open a door, let alone actually print something.


Ever since they merged with COmpaq thier laptops are garbage too. They use Compaq's design which a a congential flaw in the solder joints attaching the AC adapter to the motherboard , meaning they all WILL fail in about 12-36 months making it impossible to charge your laptop's batteries. They know this design flaw exists and they just don't care as its a way to create "churn" among laptop buyers.

And a company recently capitalized at $100 Billion overpaying by half in a billion dollar acquisition that nonetheless provides them with real value and working products is VERY different than shelling out $10 billion for vaporware with no obvious connection to your core business even if it DID work
 
2012-11-21 11:55:03 AM  

Two Dogs Farking: You might be a bad manager if a company called SAP cans you for being an asshole to your staff.


To be fair, I'm told SAP drives a lot of people to extremes.
 
2012-11-21 12:04:30 PM  

MaudlinMutantMollusk: I wish I could get paid $25 million to be incompetent for 10 months


No, you see, if they'd only paid him more, he would have better incentive not to suck. The way you phrased it, it implies that CEOs like Apotheker aren't worth their inflated wages when actually it's the reverse. In order to separate the wheat from the chaff you have to offer insanely large wages to CEOs, even moreso than what they currently do. After all, paying out the nose for an executive is the only measure of worth for a company. It's not like the products, services, non-manager employees, physical holdings and history of a company are worth anything.
 
2012-11-21 12:29:44 PM  

scottydoesntknow: Fox: This joint venture was your idea and the consultants love it. But I'm not convinced: Autonomy Inc. has grown by 8% annually like clockwork. Their revenue stream must be off the books, maybe even illegal.


Having worked for HP for over a decade, this is totally how it works:

Hire CEO. They bring up the idea of purchasing a smaller company that has a steady revenue stream due to their business model. Buy it, shift good HP personnel to newly purchased company, move upper management of newly purchased company to HP. Institute HP business model to newly purchased company, even theough it's apples and oranges. Lay off everyone still under the umbrella of the newly purchased company (including all the talent you shifted there from lower management). Fire CEO because the merger failed miserably.

Hire new CEO. They bring up the idea of purchasing a smaller company that has a steady revenue stream...

They've done this for at least the last 15 years, and by my calculations, only have about 10 billions dollars in liquid assets, down from the 40 billion of 1990, and the 25 billion of 2004.

HP is quickly killing their own brand and business with these stupid company purchases. Truth is, the companies they purchase are doing well with their 8-12% annual growth, but HP's business model demands at least 26% or it's not a viable component to their company. They think these companies are sitting on a goldmine and just need HP's fiscal might to take it to the next step. The truth of the matter is HP needs to revamp their entire business model for long term growth, like they used to have pre-1990, instead of these buyouts that are akin to get rich quick schemes.

TL; DR version: HP is the Hot Shot Sports Star of the business world that goes bankrupt.
 
2012-11-21 12:53:58 PM  

ZAZ: I wasn't paying close attention to this. The article mentions a lot of board turnover. Did the board that approved the purchase have ties to the overvalued company?


This is the same board that approved the hire of Apotheker when some of the board members hadn't even met the guy.

I'll repeat that. The board didn't meet with the CEO they hired. It's unbelievable.
 
2012-11-21 12:54:21 PM  

HST's Dead Carcass:
Hire CEO. They bring up the idea of purchasing a smaller company that has a steady revenue stream due to their business model. Buy it, shift good HP personnel to newly purchased company, move upper management of newly purchased company to HP. Institute HP business model to newly purchased company, even through it's apples and oranges. Lay off everyone still under the umbrella of the newly purchased company (including all the talent you shifted there from lower management). Fire CEO because the merger failed miserably.



I was a Compaq/HP employee for a decade. Compaq was a pretty well run company until the DEC merger (The Tandem merger was pretty much incidental). But Compaq was infected with DEC personnel, and pretty much poisoned by the time HP bought Compaq, And the poison spread.
 
2012-11-21 01:00:39 PM  

MaudlinMutantMollusk: I wish I could get paid $25 million to be incompetent for 10 months


Do you have irreplaceable skills honed through years of being fired or resigning from top management positions at multiple companies?

During my MBA (ya, ya I suck at math) program, one of my profs showed us a study about "rock star" CEOs vs. homegrown replacements, and showed how the free agent CEOs overwhelmingly harmed the companies that hired them, while the homegrown people generally improved them.
 
2012-11-21 01:07:43 PM  

roc6783: MaudlinMutantMollusk: I wish I could get paid $25 million to be incompetent for 10 months

Do you have irreplaceable skills honed through years of being fired or resigning from top management positions at multiple companies?

During my MBA (ya, ya I suck at math) program, one of my profs showed us a study about "rock star" CEOs vs. homegrown replacements, and showed how the free agent CEOs overwhelmingly harmed the companies that hired them, while the homegrown people generally improved them.


My personal experience would validate that observation. When HP bought Compaq, we were asked to go into the building hallways to show our support for Carly Fiorina our new CEO who had already wrecked on company.
 
2012-11-21 01:11:23 PM  

simplicimus: I was a Compaq/HP employee for a decade. Compaq was a pretty well run company until the DEC merger (The Tandem merger was pretty much incidental). But Compaq was infected with DEC personnel, and pretty much poisoned by the time HP bought Compaq, And the poison spread.


Correctomundo! I have worked at the Colorado Springs facility off and on since 1988 (called CX01). I worked there when it was DEC, Quantum, Microsoft, Agilent, Compaq, HP. I'd quit after a year or two because the job sucked and go wait tables instead (better money by far) or go back to school... only to get hired by the latest company that took over the building. I've seen CX01 change dramatically from when I first started there, go through many refits, and they finally closed it down in 2010 (when they laid the rest of us off).

I can honestly say I'd never want to work for HP again. If it was the only job available I'd take it, but given the choice, I'd rather make less money than have to deal with being an HP employee again. The culture of that company is just sick and dying.
 
2012-11-21 01:32:27 PM  

simplicimus: roc6783: MaudlinMutantMollusk: ***snip***

My personal experience would validate that observation. When HP bought Compaq, we were asked to go into the building hallways to show our support for Carly Fiorina our new CEO who had already wrecked on company.


Another fun story from that class that I have used in a few threads:

The prof had a friend who got into a management position. The first thing she did was fix some problems that she knew about from having worked in the department for several years, but she kept others. Fixing these issues saved money, so she got promoted, then she saved a bunch of money by creating more issues (prof wasn't specific, but cutting staff was implied), got promoted, then got promoted again by fixing the mess she created in the first place. Rinsed and repeated until she was CEO.

I am just not sure how the hell that would work without someone noticing, but the largest company I have worked for is just over 350 people and I started here when there were 60ish.
 
2012-11-21 02:11:56 PM  

czei: HP has been known in the past for its solid engineering, devices that may not be stylish, but are rock solid dependable, accurate, and incorporating the best engineering practices. Instead, this has been abandoned for short term gains, with the result being the company puts out garbage.


The same thing is true in much of the business world today; bring in as much money as possible in the short term regardless of what damage you do to long term prospects. This occurs because the people involved have zero accountability and little risk to their own prospects; if they run the company into the ground they still get their multi-million dollar golden parachutes.
 
2012-11-21 02:49:48 PM  
300 people did due dillegence on Autonomy. What were they doing? Hookers and blow?
 
2012-11-21 03:16:02 PM  
 
2012-11-21 03:34:02 PM  

wingnut396: Just think if we didn't compensate these courageous individuals enough to take the though chances to use their talent in the American capitalists system!


But if you think of it as $35 million to be rid of him then it's a bargain.
 
kab
2012-11-21 03:38:13 PM  
But I thought these sort of folks were the top talent that must be protected at all costs?

Huh.
 
2012-11-21 04:52:30 PM  
CSB time.

I was at a company in 2002 which did a license swap deal. I wanted to keep it on the shelf because all Autonomy is, is "spiteware". It's a Sharepoint knock off that isn't half as functional as Sharepoint and has poor integration with other products.

I was told to install it. As expected it was a POS. I then left the company. I think they eventually deployed Sharepoint and had to eat the cost of trying to extract all the content out of Autonomy.

Another installment of upper management making operational decisions in a vacuum.
 
2012-11-21 05:00:45 PM  

czei: Yeah, its a screw up, but then Facebook paid $1B for Instagram, eBay paid $2.7B for Skype. The real stupid decisions have been to abandon the consumer market, smothering its pad line in the cradle, and floating selling off the PC division.


The funniest part about eBay's Skype acquisition is that they somehow managed to own it for 4 years and barely broke even selling it, while the investment group that bought it from them managed to turn around and sell it to Microsoft for nearly $6 billion in profit just two years later, so selling it when they did was an even worse decision than buying Skype in the first place.
 
2012-11-21 05:00:50 PM  
Hey, HP's loss is our gain. we hired a great guy from HP. Don't know how much of a pay cut it was, probably substantial, but he seems more than a bit happy to be out of there
 
2012-11-21 05:03:28 PM  
Autonomy wasn't that bad an investment, I don't care what HP says now. They purchased a number of products that weren't well supported after purchase, but their bread and butter was pretty damned impressive. All it would take is a little vision and innovation and all hell would break loose.

Oh wait, we're talking about HP here. Nevermind.
 
2012-11-21 05:05:50 PM  

BalugaJoe: 300 people did due dillegence on Autonomy. What were they doing? Hookers and blow?


So it's apparent you've never been through one of these rotations. Sad really. The hookers and blow are among the best parts.
 
2012-11-21 06:33:31 PM  

BalugaJoe: 300 people did due dillegence on Autonomy. What were they doing? Hookers and blow?


those ledger checkers merely go over the items and report the findings. might look good, might look bad. the decision to buy or pass is not theirs.
 
2012-11-21 06:44:10 PM  

rohar: Autonomy wasn't that bad an investment, I don't care what HP says now. They purchased a number of products that weren't well supported after purchase, but their bread and butter was pretty damned impressive


Sounds more like the other way around -- Autonomy's "bread and butter" was only profitable after they cooked the books. All their profits came from companies they'd acquired.
 
2012-11-21 06:46:15 PM  
But but... if we don't pay top dollar for the incompetent CEO's, they will go elsewhere...
 
2012-11-21 06:55:11 PM  
HP ought to get into gaming. Maybe they could buy out Phantom Entertainment.
 
2012-11-21 06:57:26 PM  

Magorn: czei: Yeah, its a screw up, but then Facebook paid $1B for Instagram, eBay paid $2.7B for Skype. The real stupid decisions have been to abandon the consumer market, smothering its pad line in the cradle, and floating selling off the PC division.

HP has been known in the past for its solid engineering, devices that may not be stylish, but are rock solid dependable, accurate, and incorporating the best engineering practices. Instead, this has been abandoned for short term gains, with the result being the company puts out garbage.

I don't know about their B2B products, but their recent printer models have been an embarrassment, not fit to prop open a door, let alone actually print something.

Ever since they merged with COmpaq thier laptops are garbage too. They use Compaq's design which a a congential flaw in the solder joints attaching the AC adapter to the motherboard , meaning they all WILL fail in about 12-36 months making it impossible to charge your laptop's batteries. They know this design flaw exists and they just don't care as its a way to create "churn" among laptop buyers.

And a company recently capitalized at $100 Billion overpaying by half in a billion dollar acquisition that nonetheless provides them with real value and working products is VERY different than shelling out $10 billion for vaporware with no obvious connection to your core business even if it DID work


I'm going to take an issue with the laptop statement. Very few companies build their own laptops anymore, and haven't for a VERY long time. Sony builds a couple of their own models (not many) and I think Toshiba's Qosmio series is in-house. Lenovo & Asus build their own (and some MSI's, et al) are in-house. Big vendors like Dell, HP, Compaq, et al., haven't had laptop building in-house for years. They get "their" laptops from Uniwill, Bizcom/Compal, Asus, and a couple other companies. You see an HP and a Dell and a Toshiba that have nearly identical specs, but look a little different? They probably are the same laptop, inside. The only difference will be a couple pieces of fascia and the name slapped on it.
 
2012-11-21 07:01:08 PM  

1000Monkeys: wingnut396: Just think if we didn't compensate these courageous individuals enough to take the though chances to use their talent in the American capitalists system!

But if you think of it as $35 million to be rid of him then it's a bargain.


Can we send them to run foreign companies? I mean, let them ruin China.
 
2012-11-21 07:21:21 PM  
I've read a lot about autonomy and their products. The problem with all of these "products" is they are actually services, which can do a nice canned demo, and produce a pretty nifty-looking report - which doesn't actually have a lot of value, once you actually look at what it's telling you.

Any buyer willing to commit the intellectual and financial capital and support requirements to run Autonomy's product is more than capable of producing much more useful and flexible data analysis already, without having to stumble for months over how to actually get the reporting and gui engines to get the f**k out of the way. Companies that don't understand what they bought from Autonomy need to replace their CIO with someone who has the credibility to give one-word answers, like "no", and make them stick.

I'd say I can't believe HP got fleeced so thoroughly, but that would just be my nostalgic affection for serious, level-headed engineers like Bill and Dave, a pair who would be escorted out of the present-day HP boardroom faster than a sober auditor at Enron.
 
2012-11-21 07:25:18 PM  

macdaddy357: HP ought to get into gaming. Maybe they could buy out Phantom Entertainment.


I've never thought about it, but you're right. HP has an excellent track record as a software company, the industry isn't risky or competitive, and if they can crack the top ten, they'll add as much as 1.5% to their yearly revenue.
 
2012-11-21 07:36:40 PM  

MisterTweak: The problem with all of these "products" is they are actually services, which can do a nice canned demo, and produce a pretty nifty-looking report - which doesn't actually have a lot of value, once you actually look at what it's telling you.


I know in reading about some various similar products my only thought is "If you have Oracle or some such, all you need is a few good queries and you'll get the same results and for next to nothing. Granted in some cases I'd question wanting this info in the first place.
 
2012-11-21 08:41:31 PM  

WhyteRaven74: MisterTweak: The problem with all of these "products" is they are actually services, which can do a nice canned demo, and produce a pretty nifty-looking report - which doesn't actually have a lot of value, once you actually look at what it's telling you.

I know in reading about some various similar products my only thought is "If you have Oracle or some such, all you need is a few good queries and you'll get the same results and for next to nothing. Granted in some cases I'd question wanting this info in the first place.


There is a market for these things. Yeah, if all you want to do is search for "rounded corners patent" in Oracle, then it's a query away. But if you need to search for "rounded corner patent" across email, SharePoint, eroom, wiki, Jive, chat, text, SAP, Lync, and Salesforce, that's another thing entirely.

You really do need an overarching product to do things like e-discovery, or even production/expense dashboards at a large firm. MisterTweak is right - you can do a great demo of a limited environment where all you have are apps you support. The devils is in implementation and consulting, as in reality it requires a high level of (very expensive) customization. It's very much like a business process engagement. Perhaps that's why Apotheker was so attracted to the acquisition.

But it's a small market. Unlike ERP or CRM, there's relatively little cost savings to be had as a result. Perhaps it's something that will grow exponentially in the future, and perhaps Autonomy is the best of the lot, but it's not a huge revenue stream for any one of the vendors in the space.

They overpaid, Apotheker's a moron, but the real villian is HP's board, who failed in their duty of oversight in this and numerous other instances over the last decade.
 
2012-11-21 08:48:46 PM  

czei: I don't know about their B2B products, but their recent printer models have been an embarrassment, not fit to prop open a door, let alone actually print something.


Their networking equipment is still da bomb... No need to pay the extortion fees to Cisco, and you get stuff that is just as good.
 
2012-11-21 08:51:06 PM  
A CEO who has failed and then failed miserably will still get another job. Why, because he's a CEO.
 
2012-11-21 09:07:01 PM  

Glockenspiel Hero: Hey, HP's loss is our gain. we hired a great guy from HP. Don't know how much of a pay cut it was, probably substantial, but he seems more than a bit happy to be out of there


...and I'm sure the burgers have never been flipped more efficiently... ;)
 
2012-11-21 09:16:05 PM  

finnished: czei: I don't know about their B2B products, but their recent printer models have been an embarrassment, not fit to prop open a door, let alone actually print something.

Their networking equipment is still da bomb... No need to pay the extortion fees to Cisco, and you get stuff that is just as good.


0/10, and the proxy's gonna flag you for emailing confidential spreadsheets to a kiddy porn business you were running on the side out of your office while using an IBM laptop you purchased on your travel card at full list.
 
2012-11-21 09:26:59 PM  

pjbreeze: A CEO who has failed and then failed miserably will still get another job. Why, because he's a CEO.


Well, he's a miserable failure at CEO of HP who made a stupid-ass decision to purchase another company that HP couldn't swallow. Sounds like he has a promising career as a failed Republican candidate!

upload.wikimedia.org


/f*ck that stupid-ass c*nt b*tch motherf*cking piece of sh*t jackass incompetent overblown sorry excuse for a human being for what she did to the tech industry in this country.
 
2012-11-21 09:35:14 PM  
Does anyone remember Digital Equipment Corporation? Or Piedmont Airlines?
 
2012-11-21 09:53:29 PM  

MrEricSir: rohar: Autonomy wasn't that bad an investment, I don't care what HP says now. They purchased a number of products that weren't well supported after purchase, but their bread and butter was pretty damned impressive

Sounds more like the other way around -- Autonomy's "bread and butter" was only profitable after they cooked the books. All their profits came from companies they'd acquired.


I'm not so sure. If that was so, how do you explain Blinkx which has been profitable for a bit and packing on revenue like it's going out of style? Blinkx depends almost solely on IDOL.

Aurisma was a similar, interesting application of the technology. What's HP done with it?
 
2012-11-21 10:02:30 PM  
Good article on BusinessInsider about this mess: Autonomy would sell hardware and software in the same deal. The hardware would cost $3M and the software $1M but they would report it the other way -- $3M for the software (which no one uses). So the sales numbers were artificially high.

But hell HP could have figured that out by trying to find a single company that used their product.

I'm surprised Marc Andreessen is still on HP's board. He had them buy WebOS / Palm, bring in the fired SAP CEO, and wanted the Autonomy deal. Dude's behind around $10B in loss of HP's market cap.
 
2012-11-21 10:10:50 PM  

Magorn: czei: Yeah, its a screw up, but then Facebook paid $1B for Instagram, eBay paid $2.7B for Skype. The real stupid decisions have been to abandon the consumer market, smothering its pad line in the cradle, and floating selling off the PC division.

HP has been known in the past for its solid engineering, devices that may not be stylish, but are rock solid dependable, accurate, and incorporating the best engineering practices. Instead, this has been abandoned for short term gains, with the result being the company puts out garbage.

I don't know about their B2B products, but their recent printer models have been an embarrassment, not fit to prop open a door, let alone actually print something.

Ever since they merged with COmpaq thier laptops are garbage too. They use Compaq's design which a a congential flaw in the solder joints attaching the AC adapter to the motherboard , meaning they all WILL fail in about 12-36 months making it impossible to charge your laptop's batteries. They know this design flaw exists and they just don't care as its a way to create "churn" among laptop buyers.

And a company recently capitalized at $100 Billion overpaying by half in a billion dollar acquisition that nonetheless provides them with real value and working products is VERY different than shelling out $10 billion for vaporware with no obvious connection to your core business even if it DID work


I've got a 4 year old HP laptop that has been awesome except that now I have to take it apart and re-attach the USB ports, whcih I am dreading, because I don't think that'll be anywhere near as easy as it was for my Toshiba. Never had any problems with pwoer, except for the original battery dying complete death after about 2 years.
 
2012-11-21 10:18:15 PM  

HST's Dead Carcass: HP is quickly killing their own brand and business with these stupid company purchases


I thought they were killing their business with printer software that takes up roughly half the computer's resources, even when it's not printing.
 
2012-11-21 10:48:40 PM  

oh_please: I thought they were killing their business with printer software that takes up roughly half the computer's resources, even when it's not printing.


That's a huge thing as well. There is simply no logical reason why printer software needs to be that bloated, and why it must load THAT MUCH just to reside in the background and be ready to print. The worst part is that that much must be loaded even to print to a network printer, which should be handling the whole control of the print heads itself!
 
2012-11-21 11:16:31 PM  

oh_please: HST's Dead Carcass: HP is quickly killing their own brand and business with these stupid company purchases

I thought they were killing their business with printer software that takes up roughly half the computer's resources, even when it's not printing.


No, that's just evil, not actually incompetent. It gets you to upgrade sooner to another computer, which they might sell you. In the consumer market, I don't think HP's actually that much more evil than any other major brand - their attempts at vendor lock-in are always kind of half-hearted. Contrast with Apple, Dell, or Sony.

Once you get into the commercial-duty printers, the need to attach bloatware vanishes, generic drivers work across most of their model lines, and even their consumables are priced close enough to third-party to pass expense-account muster.

HP's problem is much more massive, I think. They have nobody at the helm who actually cares about the company, no passionate fanatics who bet their personal fortunes on the well-being of the company, just a string of mercenaries who come in to "solve the problem" - that problem being an annoyingly whiny collection of "engineers" who want to make "quality products".
 
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