Amazon sues employee for taking Google job

2 Jul 2014

A controversial non-compete employment agreement between some of Silicon Valley’s largest companies has reared its head after Amazon sued its former employee, Zoltan Szabadi, for accepting a job with Google.

Amazon filed the lawsuit on 27 June in Seattle, Washington.

Szabadi’s decision to join Google Cloud Platform has supposedly violated the contract he had signed with Amazon, which stated he couldn’t leave the company to work for another major company, something which had been agreed between the heads of the largest companies in the tech hub, albeit through a ‘gentleman’s agreement’. However, Amazon and Google had an individual agreement over hiring each other’s employees.

The case is compounded by both Amazon’s and Google’s growing rivalry in the field of storage and cloud computing, with Szabadi’s appointment touching a nerve with the online retailer and web services provider, according to GeekWire.

As part of the agreement to join Google, Szabadi is not to solicit business from Amazon or deal with any customers he would have dealt with in the six months prior to accepting the new role. Amazon believes this doesn’t live up to their prior agreement.

In a prior similar case involving Daniel Powers, a former Amazon Web Services vice-president who went to work for Google, Amazon sought to restrict him for 18 months from undertaking any work that competes with Google’s cloud computing business. A federal judge found an overall ban on competition to be too broad, but said Amazon could keep Powers from working directly with his former Amazon customers for nine months, GeekWire reported.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic