It’s not often you hear about AWS suing someone, or somebody, but when you do, you can be sure it’s a big deal. As in now, where the cloud titan has taken a former executive to court.
Claiming that he violated non-compete agreement.
The company alleges that Gene Farrell violated a non-compete agreement he had in place with Amazon when he made what is being called an unthinkable move to join Smartsheet — a business software company based in the Seattle area.
Farrell took charge as its senior vice president of product on June 1, 2017
By filing a lawsuit against the former executive, Amazon may have revealed its big plans to take on Microsoft, revving up its rivalry with the software giant in the cloud space. It seems that Amazon has big plans for business productivity applications, a market that Microsoft has dominated for quite some time.
Essentially, Amazon claims that Farrell, a former vice president in its cloud computing unit, had access to its most critical confidential and proprietary information.
And by working with this hot startup, the former executive is now working for a competitor:
As Amazon alleges in its suit:
“Farrell was involved in and privy to AWS’s strategy, roadmap, pipeline, customers, strengths and weakness for cloud-based productivity products including the development of new products not yet publicly launched or announced.”
The head scratching part of the suit here is that AWS does not really have a product that directly competes with Smartsheet, a VC favorite that is valued at about $850 million and has already raised about $121 million.
In fact, Smartsheet is actually an AWS customer whose service is designed like a spreadsheet, very similar to Microsoft Excel.
It would seem from the documents that AWS now plans to add higher-level software to its cloud infrastructure in order to make its platform more competitive with business software from the likes of Microsoft and Google.
Chances are, we will soon found out the sort of material and plans Farrell had access to.