VMware has filed a lawsuit against its former chief operating officer Rajiv Ramaswami over his recent exit to take up the chief executive role at Nutanix.
Ramaswami moved to Nutanix earlier this month, however VMware alleges he breached “legal and contractual duties and obligations” to it in doing so.
“For at least two months before resigning from [VMware], at the same time he was working with senior leadership to shape VMware’s key strategic vision and direction, Mr. Ramaswami also was secretly meeting with at least the CEO, CFO, and apparently the entire board of directors of Nutanix to become Nutanix’s chief executive officer,” VMware said in a statement.
“He joined Nutanix as its CEO only two days after leaving VMware.”
Ramaswami officially joined Nutanix on December 9, succeeding co-founder Dheeraj Pandey as CEO.
VMware claimed Ramaswami “demonstrated poor judgement and had a clear and extended period of conflict of interest.”
“He should have disclosed this conflict of interest to VMware so that the company could have taken steps to protect itself, but he did not notify VMware, and thus deprived the company of the ability to do so by concealing his Nutanix-related activities,” VMware charged.
VMware said it expected employees to “honour their commitments to the company”.
“Executive officers should be held to an even higher standard,” it said.
VMware added that it had tried to avoid litigation but claimed Ramaswami and Nutanix “refused to engage ... in a satisfactory manner.”
The vendor said it was trying to protect its brand and the “billions of dollars” spent on its roadmap and R&D.
Update, 31/12 at 9.15am:
Nutanix said it and Ramaswami had "gone above and beyond to be proactive and cooperative with VMware throughout the transition".
"VMware’s lawsuit seeks to make interviewing for a new job wrongful," Nutanix said in a statement.
"We view VMware’s misguided action as a response to losing a deeply valued and respected member of its leadership team.
"It is disappointing to see VMware’s management sue him just because he chose to pursue an opportunity to become a public company CEO.
"We believe that VMware’s action is nothing more than an unfounded attempt to hurt a competitor and we intend to vigorously defend this matter in court."