Amazon takes its non-compete clauses seriously. So seriously, in fact, that for a second time the company is suing a former employee for taking a job with a competitor. To add insult to injury, that employee went to the worst competitor of all: Google.
Zoltan Szabadi was leading Amazon’s Strategic Alliances Emerging Partners unit, dealing with partners that sell Amazon’s cloud and use its services. In May he made the transition to Google, doing the exact same job but working with a completely different client base. He and Google agreed that he would not approach any of Amazon’s customers or strategic partners for six months, nor was he allowed to help Google recruit Amazon employees during that time period. Unfortunately for him, that agreement wasn’t enough to keep his previous employer off his back.
Because Amazon is the leader in cloud technology and Google is the company’s biggest threat to that title, it makes sense that Amazon would be wary of its former employees taking jobs with such formidable competitors. It’s no wonder that Amazon gets lawsuit happy when their employees jump ship. However, history has already sided against the company. In 2012 Amazon sued former employee Daniel Powers for taking a job at Google – a lawsuit that ended in Powers’ favor (although Powers was not allowed to approach Amazon’s client base for nine months). Amazon should be aware that this new lawsuit might not go in its favor the second time around, either.
Then there’s the issue of non-compete clauses, which have no power in the state of California, but do in Washington, where Amazon is based and where the company filed the legal papers. Since it’s common for tech employees to move between Seattle and Silicon Valley, the tech community will be watching this case closely. If a court happens to side in Amazon’s favor, this could stall the hiring processes used by so many similar companies.
It’s too early still to predict the outcome, but Google plans on fighting back, as court documents show.