Microsoft is moving to stop one of its former executives from joining cloud rival Salesforce.com, amidst increasing animosity between the two companies.
Microsoft and Salesforce.com find themselves locked in
conflict again, after the software giant filed a lawsuit to stop a former
executive from joining its cloud-services rival.
Salesforce.com had hired Matthew Miszewski-whose LinkedIn
page states his former position as general
manager of worldwide
government at Microsoft
-as senior vice
president of the global public sector.
That apparently did not sit well with Microsoft, which
filed a Jan. 26 complaint for damages and injunctive relief
Superior Court of the State of Washington for King County.
"In plain violation of his employment agreement with
Microsoft, Miszewski has accepted employment with Microsoft's direct competitor
Salesforce.com," reads the complaint, "in a position that targets precisely the
same market segment-government and public sector customers-that was Miszewski's
area of responsibility while employed at Microsoft."
Microsoft alleges that Miszewski signed a March 2007
employee agreement preventing him from disclosing confidential information
"during his employment and at all times thereafter," and from working for any
competitors for a year following his departure from the company.
"Throughout his employment with Microsoft, Miszewski has
access to some of Microsoft's most confidential, proprietary and trade secret
information related to CRM and cloud computing solutions for Public Sector
customers," the complaint continues. "As a result of his position, Miszewski
was-and is-uniquely and intimately familiar with some of Microsoft's most
confidential sales, marketing and production information for its CRM and cloud
computing services for the Public Sector."
Salesforce.com has not returned eWEEK's request for comment.
However, Microsoft seemed willing to broadcast its fighting mood over
Miszewski's new job.
"This case involves an employee with knowledge of
Microsoft's sensitive customer and competitive information going to work for
Salesforce.com, a direct competitor, in a job that is focused on the same
solutions and customers," David Howard, deputy general counsel at Microsoft,
wrote in a widely
circulated Jan. 27 statement
. "This directly violates the confidentiality
and noncompetition agreements signed upon beginning work with our company."
Microsoft's "all in" cloud strategy is colliding with
Salesforce.com's enterprise-cloud initiatives with all the subtlety of two
18-wheelers plowing into each other on a highway. Over the course of 2010, the
two companies locked legal horns on a number of fronts, including a set of
tit-for-tat intellectual property lawsuits that concluded with Salesforce.com
Salesforce.com recently used its annual Dreamforce
conference to unveil Database.com, a new standalone cloud database for IT pros
creating applications; the company claims that developers for nearly any device
and platform will be able to leverage Database.com's features, even for
applications using Amazon EC2 and other non-Salesforce.com cloud platforms.
Database.com heightens Salesforce.com's competition with Microsoft and its SQL
Azure cloud-database service.
Whichever company wins the majority of the enterprise's
cloud-computing dollars stands to make billions over the next several years. In
that context, a legal battle over a single executive is a tiny sideshow-but one
that nonetheless highlights the two entities' growing animosity.