We would like to give Pure’s customers and partners (current, prospective, and future) a heads up about ongoing litigation with our primary competitor, EMC. Over the last six months, EMC elected to sue six former employees that joined Pure Storage. We have been and will continue to defend them. Some of those suits have now been settled, and some are ongoing.
Yesterday, EMC elected to broaden their legal action to sue Pure Storage, alleging that in aggregate 44 former EMC employees from the sales side have joined Pure over the last two years (which would amount to about 13% of our workforce) and is claiming that these employees and Pure in general have behaved unethically. We at Pure believe there is no merit whatsoever to any of these complaints. We have the resources (see our pre-IPO financing news) and intend to defend ourselves vigorously against these allegations.
Pure Storage is committed to building a world-class technology company whose actions are defined by integrity and transparency. We believe in employee freedom and in hiring the very best, but at the same time, we have a strong policy against the use of any third party confidential information; that is, we believe all employees—including our own and those of our competitors—should be free to follow their dreams and support their families as they see fit, provided they honor their lawful commitments and safeguard IP from prior employers. So we at Pure are committed to protecting other company’s IP as we protect our own, but we will not be deterred from hiring great, ethical people seeking to join the Puritan team. To do otherwise would be to compromise our core values of employee freedom and hiring the very best candidates that seek to join us.
To remove any doubt around our intent to be squeaky clean in building our team and our company, new hires at Pure that seek to join from a competitor are asked to review their existing employment agreements, and to confirm that they are no longer in possession of any IP from their prior employer (including IP in the cloud, mobile devices, or backup solutions that an employee could still have access to), and not to share any going forward or use at Pure.
While I have no insight that would allow me to comment on EMC’s motivation, I would say in general more mature companies risk forgetting the golden rule—they are happy to recruit great people to join their companies from competitors (indeed they aggressively solicit such hires), but then resort to onerous non-compete agreements and lawsuits to deter the same employees from exercising their freedom to seek employment elsewhere. At Pure we don’t put non-compete clauses in our employee agreements – we simply don’t believe in them.
Based upon our present understanding, I am wholly confident that Pure Storage and all of our employees have been behaving ethically, and that these charges will be proven to be without merit. More importantly, this is a sideshow to the real competition between Pure and EMC—delivering the next-generation of all-flash storage that is rapidly replacing incumbent mechanical disk systems of which EMC is the market leader.
We at Pure welcome that marketplace competition. Competition drives innovation and customer value. Competition makes our products better and makes us into a better company, more attuned to customer and partner needs. Competition also fuels market growth. We are excited that EMC’s principal flash storage offering in XtremIO will be in the market soon (coincidentally slated to be announced just a week after this lawsuit was filed), as we expect both Pure Storage and XtremIO to benefit handsomely from the ongoing shift of $15B in annual spend from performance (oxymoron) mechanical disk to all-flash for the price of disk. Indeed, we think Pure and EMC XtremIO are both uniquely positioned to take a share from the incumbent disk arrays as well as pricier all-flash alternatives.
But that competition should always be pursued ethically. While we’re serious about taking the market by storm, we are only interested in doing so the old fashioned way: by ethically outperforming our competitors and delivering greater value for our customers and partners. May the best next-generation storage win.