Leader: Dirty tricks won't get you far

Let's play fair, people

Let's play fair, people

Business is a cut-throat endeavour and the IT industry in particular is full of competitive companies, each trying to get ahead of the other.

But there's competition and there's hitting below the belt. Email security company MessageLabs has recently taken part in the latter.

silicon.com has learned that MessageLabs emailed customers of competitor BlackSpider, saying BlackSpider was in financial difficulty and urging them to switch providers.

While some might argue that casting speculation over a company's financial position to steal customers is acceptable, we would not.

In this case it appears to have been a salesperson who initiated the email campaign, yet MessageLabs founder Jos White issued no apology after confirming to us that his company had sent out the emails. In fact he even encouraged more "speculation" over BlackSpider's accounts.

Both companies provide a similar service to filter malicious emails. And by all accounts, both do well at providing that service.

So why risk one's reputation by using such back-handed tactics? When it comes to business tactics, you have to know where to draw the line. And if you step over that line, the damage you cause to your own reputation outweighs any benefit you may have received.

You may get away with such a move once or twice but the IT industry is not that big and word gets around. In the end, such behaviour will only make a company look bad.

Let's play hard - but let's play fair.