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Best IT opportunities are in start-ups, says Autonomy CEO

Mike Lynch says 'amazing change in IT' will be led by entrepreneurs, not big companies

Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch believes that young IT people should join a start-up if they want to lead change in the industry.

Having grown British software company Autonomy from a 10-strong group of entrepreneurs to a FTSE100 company recently acquired by US IT giant HP for £6.7 billion, Lynch believes that the innovation and dynamism in the start-up community is unrivalled.

"We're going to enter a period of such amazing change in IT. I would want to be a part of that change, if I were a young person. You're more likely to find that [change] in the start-up world," he said.

The period of change Lynch is referring to will be driven by social trends such as consumerisation and mobility, rather than by changes in technology, as was the case historically.

"What's happening at the moment is an explosion in friendly information. It's about video, social media, texts. It's not about databases. More importantly, it's out and about - it's not about sitting at a terminal anymore," he said.

Lynch also believes that a start-up provides is the most exciting place for a young IT person to learn everything they need to know about running a business.

"I still look back on the days where there were ten of us, eating takeaway Chinese, using silicon probes as cutlery. But you're all on a mission. It's incredibly exciting. And you learn.

"You've got no choice - you learn about marketing and selling, because you're going to do it, and you learn about the technology," he said.

However, he recognised that there were risks, and that the start-up career path was not suitable for everyone.

"At that time of your life, if you don't have a mortgage, you don't mind living in Hackney - for heaven's sake, go to the start-up. What's the worst that could happen? You work there, they can't pay you for some months, you go for a job somewhere else.

"There will come a time in your life when you can't do that, when you've got kids, a mortgage, all that stuff. But if you've got that luxury to take that risk for a while [go for it]," Lynch said.


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