Yesterday, site visitor Jean made this excellent comment:
FYI, Update 1 breaks auto startup/shutdown in free version of ESXi 5.0
I entered my “free” license after having used an eval version until now. Looks like I have to either roll back the install or go back to using eval version.
Given I recently had a potential database corruption issue with my "VMware vCenter Server Appliance" which may or may not be related to this problem, I'll definitely want to look into this potential issue. Thank you Jean!
Jul 13 2012 Update:
Karel Moermans and Jean comments right here at TinkerTry tipped me off to the new fix, just published on VMware's site on Jul 12, see:
Here's the history/backstory on this problem.
Meanwhile, read more about it:
Auto Start Breaks in 5.0 Update 1 – Not Just Free vSphere Hypervisor Version
Re: VMware ESXi 5.0 Update 1 apparently breaks AutoStartManager