Amazon sues former cloud sales chief over Google hiring

Amazon sues former cloud sales chief over Google hiring

Summary: Amazon's former cloud sales chief is being sued by the retail giant over his move to Google. Why? Because Google's cloud poses one of the greatest threats to Amazon Web Services.

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TOPICS: Amazon, Cloud, Google
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Amazon is suing its former Amazon Web Services (AWS) sales chief after he moved to Google, a purveyor of rival cloud goodness.

The retail giant turned tablet maker and cloud giant sued Daniel Powers, claiming that his move to Google violates a non-compete clause in his employment agreement, preventing him from working for the competition for 18 months after he left Amazon. Amazon also claims the move to Google violates his severance package of $325,000. 

According to Powers' LinkedIn profile and the lawsuit, he worked at IBM for two decades before taking over its cloud computing sales division for North America. After just five months at that position, he left IBM. After a six-month hiatus, he joined Amazon where he served as head of global sales for Amazon Web Services for 18 months. He was offered a severance package and left in July. In late September, he joined Google to head up its cloud platform sales unit.

Geekwire, who first reported the story, obtained the suit in full.

Amazon wants to impose an injunction on Powers preventing him from disclosing the innards of the Amazon Web Services technology or any confidential information about the platform to Google, just at a time when Google is gearing up to compete against Amazon with its own service, the Google Compute Engine. 

According to the filing (emphasis mine):

As VP, AWS Sales, Powers was responsible for developing, implementing and managing Amazon Web Services' sales and business development strategy for all products and most of its customers globally (excluding only the government and education sectors). As a consequence, Powers, perhaps more than any other single Amazon employee, acquired extremely confidential, competitively sensitive information about Amazon's cloud computing business.

However, the suit says Powers' attorney told Amazon that he would not be violating his non-compete contract because, "he and Google had agreed on certain minimal limitations on his use of information and on his customer contacts."

The coup for Amazon will likely ruffle feathers at the company. Powers likely knows more about the platform most others at the company, learning the cloud service "top to bottom," according to his suit, not before taking his knowledge to Google, a rival cloud provider. 

Google launched its Compute Engine in late June, and claims to be able to "deliver up to 50 percent more compute per dollar than other cloud providers." Amazon also sees competition from HP, Oracle, and Microsoft, but none more so than Google at present thanks to the unique selling point of the price details. 

You can read the full text of the suit below. 

Topics: Amazon, Cloud, Google

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9 comments
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  • Is government involved?

    Government interference in a FREE MARKET is bad.

    "cloud goodness"? Holy cynicism...
    HypnoToad72
    • NOT Government! Cloud Soup... mmm... mmm... Good! (Sorry 'Campbell' ;-)

      How is this GOVERNMENT interference? This is ONE company suing a former employee. This has NOTHING to do with 'Government,' aside from the fact that the gov't might help 'enforce' the non-compete, IF the former employee is found in violation of its tenets.

      Unless... do YOU know something I don't??? Does AMAZON OWN THE GOVERNMENT?!
      See... I had wondered about that... LOL
      bitdoctor
  • that's a M$ instigated lawsuit

    because M$ is poised to lose again in favour of Google.
    LlNUX Geek
  • I wouldn't trust the guy

    Goes to IBM, learns what he needs to learn about IBM in 5 months, leaves, takes a 6 months off (due to Non compete clause, maybe?) Then goes to Amazon for a year and a half to learn what he can about Amazon, then suddenly leaves to join Google?

    I have to wonder if he and Google where already in employment talks 30 months ago...
    William Farrel
    • If what you are saying is true ...

      ... then I have to agree with you. Wost think you can have in your company is somebody who is unreliable and a constant jumper.
      wackoae
      • OK ... should had re-read the article before posting a response

        The guy worked at IBM for 20+ years, not 5 months. The 5 months were at the helm of
        "the cloud" division. The 6 month hiatus could be explained by being burn-out.
        wackoae
  • Didn't Amazon hire Google employees in the past??

    If you don't want to lose key personnel, keep them happy. Otherwise don't complain when they jump to the next ship at the fist opportunity.

    People have the right to look for a better deal ... regardless of company.
    wackoae
    • He took a severence package...

      ...that implies that he was "resigned" (ie. his departure wasn't entirely voluntary). Apparently, Amazon was paying him not to work for competing firms, so it may actually have a case (but maybe not).

      Really and truly, I wasn't meaning to swear.
      John L. Ries
  • I'm congenitally suspicious of non-competes...

    ...but the devil's in the details and I don't think those are on line. I figure, though, that if you're going to severely limit one's employment opportunities, you should pay plenty for the privilege.
    John L. Ries