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Keeping Pure Pure – An Open Letter to Customers on EMC’s pending lawsuit against Pure Storage

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.

About the Author

Scott Dietzen is the CEO of Pure Storage and a three-time successful entrepreneur with WebLogic, Zimbra, and Transarc.

  • Chris Drake

    I absolutely love this response! We buy a lot of storage and this attitude is so refreshing that our next purchase just might be Pure. #SpeakingWithOurWallet


    Chris Drake
    Founder and CEO, FireHost

  • James Law

    Just a tactic to take your eye off the ball and maybe a little time in the press as well. My company focuses on selling Enterprise Storage solutions and Pure Storage is not one of my current offerings. The EMC lawsuit only peaked my interest in your solution!

  • bob pasker

    This is the flip-side of the DOJ settlement, which states: “In the high technology sector, there is a strong demand for employees with advanced or specialized skills, the department said. One of the principal means by which high tech companies recruit these types of employees is to solicit them directly from other companies in a process referred to as, “cold calling.” This form of competition, when unrestrained, results in better career opportunities, the department said.”

    http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/September/10-at-1076.html

    EMC is afraid of Pure, as well they should be.

    Keep their feet to the fire, Scott!

  • Sharon Slaughter-Strom

    Obviously, this is only a distraction as stated by someone else. EMC continues to lay off committed and dedicated employee’s to save minimal dollars to their immediate bottom line, with no regard as to how it may affect their customers. I say this from experience and continued contact with the affected customers as well as many current and former employee’s. Employee moral is at an all-time low at EMC and will continue to decline as the company continues to allow incompetent managers to make seriously bad decisions without considering the affect it may have on their (currently) loyal customers…Scott, you’ve addressed this issue with utmost professionalism and tact. Kudos to you and Pure…

  • Sastry Penumarthy

    Scott – Great job with the article! Disruption causes fear! A little distraction won’t slow you down – congratulations on the great momentum! On another note, maybe you guys should adopt “Flash Gordon” as your company character?

  • Mayur Dewaikar

    You guys are doing great work at PureStorage- the market knows it and so do your competitors. When this settles, your customers likely won’t remember and won’t even care. Don’t let this slow down the momentum. Congrats on your success so far.

  • Keith Neighbors

    It is extremely rare to work with a company where the management team makes ethical decisions without considering cost. Having worked with Pure Storage for over 3 years I can tell you that I have never worked with a company where this was more true. This way of doing business is part of the “Puritan” culture and a key part of the screening process that people go through prior to joining Pure. Based on my own experience with Pure it is clear to me that this a nothing more than a distraction created by an incumbent with a lot to lose.

  • http://www.purestorage.com Matt Kixmoeller

    Approved

  • http://www.bonetruck.org/ Jim Razmus II

    I respect and admire your organizations approach to non-compete agreements. You’re projecting confidence in your company and products with the bold decision not to handcuff your employees. It’s an exciting time for enterprise storage! I’m looking forward to vigorous competition between all of the flash, storage array vendors.

  • Chief Caboodler

    Scott we have recently become a Pure Storage partner here in the Southeast. I first would like to point out that each engagement in which our personnel have had with your staff both in the field and at HQ has been very positive. As a seasoned Storage Veteran it is very clear to me that the Pure Storage technology is best of breed and so has the support. Having been a EMC partner for a number of years, we have been waiting on them to deliver on promises of Flash Storage. After a number of meetings specific to this subject my Board has directed me not to move forward in CY2014 with EMC and our partnership. With that said, Cloud Caboodle will be refocusing it’s sales, marketing and engineering resources on Pure Storage. We are all in on making Pure Storage the lead in flash storage.

    Brian McCarthy