Amazon cloud sales chief sued for going Google

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.

Zack Whittaker Writer-editor
Zack Whittaker is a former security editor for CNET's sister site ZDNet.
Zack Whittaker
2 min read

Amazon is suing its former Amazon Web Services sales chief after he moved to Google, a purveyor of rival cloud goodness.

The online retailer turned tablet maker and cloud giant filed suit against Daniel Powers in mid-October, claiming that his move to Google violates a noncompete clause in his employment agreement that prevents him from working for the competition for 18 months after leaving 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 July 1, 2012. 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:

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 noncompete 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 than 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 Hewlett-Packard, 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.

Amazon vs. Daniel Powers

This originally posted as "Amazon sues former cloud sales chief over Google hiring" on ZDNet UK.