Big Blue's former CIO tried to join AWS, ends up at energy company

The Man Who Knew Too Much, Jeff Smith, has a new job

IBM appears to have succeeded in its efforts to stop its former CIO join Amazon Web Services.

Jeff S Smith left IBM in May 2017 after being offered a senior gig at AWS.

That move rather distressed IBM, because Smith knew all about Big Blue's plans to revamp its cloud and set sail in pursuit of Amazon. IBM therefore flung a sueball at Smith and attempted to enforce its non-compete agreement.

That effort appears to have worked, as energy management company World Fuel Systems last week trumpeted the arrival of Smith as executive veep and chief operating officer.

World Fuel Systems' canned statement says Smith's “expertise in bringing agility to business teams will be instrumental in driving improved operational performance to provide an exceptional experience for our customers and suppliers.”

The Register has read court documents from the case and they suggest that IBM and Smith agreed on a settlement in September and that the Southern District of New York was happy with the terms and dismissed the case.

Court records don't include details of the settlement, but do reveal the arguments used. Smith's team contested that he wasn't privy to secret details of IBM's next cloud, that his conversations with AWS people did not divulge anything secret and that Big Blue's attempts to use its non-compete agreement were punitive and an example to the 1,700 other staffers bound by such deals. AWS also went to considerable lengths to create a job for Smith that would get around his non-compete.

IBM said Smith knew the company inside out and therefore knew that going to AWS was a no-no.

That the parties settled, each paying their own costs, suggests middle ground was found. But not central enough to let Smith work for AWS before his non-compete expires next year. World Fuels' statement, however, in no way suggests Smith's position is temporary: it looks Big Blue got their man where they wanted him to go. ®

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