Data Centre

Hortonworks accuses ex-sales bod of stealing customers for new job

Data wrangler and ex-staffer settle

By Richard Priday


Updated Court documents filed in Hortonworks’ lawsuit against a former sales manager in the UK detailed accusations that he had allegedly nicked contracts for himself and his next employer, The Register can reveal.

The particulars of the case, filed on December 13 and received at the High Court on February 1*, show the Apache Hadoop vendor alleging that ex-enterprise sales account manager Ben Rudall used confidential information about the business and its customers to make contact with clients for the benefit of himself and his new employer, rival Snowflake Computing UK.

Snowflake is a cloud data storage firm, and because "it provides data solutions for clients which need to process and store large volumes of data", Hortonworks considers them a direct competitor. This is supported by a separate court case between Hortonworks' Dutch branch and a former employee, where the court agreed that Hortonworks and Snowflake were competitors.

Hortonworks claims that while on gardening leave, Rudall spoke to representatives from Lloyds Bank, Prevalent and O2, which Hortonworks considered to be actions seeking to poach their clients.

As part of his alleged "breach of fiduciary duty", Hortonworks' claim states one aspect of this was that Rudall "resigned his employment in order to secure, undertake and/or fulfil the contracts and possibly other contracts by himself and/or with Snowflake UK". This effectively means he is being sued for moving to a new job, claiming he did so to lure Hortonwork's customers away.

Rudall is also accused of deleting data from his work laptop without permission, something he says was to remove personal items after owning the device for the four years he had worked at Hortonworks.

On these grounds, Hortonworks is seeking injunctions from the High Court in London, England, barring Rudall from working at its competitors, using its confidential information and dealing with its customers. It is also seeking damages for his alleged breaches. ®

* Updated on 7 February to add: Hortonworks UK told The Reg a "settlement of all claims" in Hortonworks UK LIMITED V Rudall had been approved on December 28, 2017 by the High Court.

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