Days after hyper-converged infrastructure firm Nutanix ropes in VMware's COO Rajiv Ramaswami as its new CEO, the later has now initiated legal proceedings against Ramaswami for material and ongoing breaches of his legal and contractual duties and obligations.
The virtual cloud infrastructure firm VMware in a case filed in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Santa Clara alleged that Ramaswami, during his time as COO of products and services at VMware secretly met with Nutanix's senior executives and board of directors about the CEO role at the same time he was working with VMware's senior leaders on strategic vision and direction.
“For at least two months before resigning from the company, 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, Inc. to become Nutanix's Chief Executive Officer,” said VMware in a statement.
The case which was first reported by The Information stands to significantly raise the temperature in the long-simmering feud between the two firms that are rivals in highly competitive hyper-converged infrastructure business.
VMware said: “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.”
Stating that VMware is not a litigious company by nature and it tried to resolve this matter without litigation “but Mr. Ramaswami and Nutanix refused to engage with VMware in a satisfactory manner.”
Nutanix has termed the move a ‘misguided action as a response to losing a deeply valued and respected member of its leadership team'.
“VMware's lawsuit seeks to make interviewing for a new job wrongful. We view VMware's misguided action as a response to losing a deeply valued and respected member of its leadership team,” the company said in a statement, adding that it will defend the matter in court.
Nutanix stated: “Mr. Ramaswami and Nutanix have gone above and beyond to be proactive and cooperative with VMware throughout the transition. Mr. Ramaswami is proud of his tenure at VMware and counts many VMware team members as friends. 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,” the statement added.
Nutanix has appointed Rajiv Ramaswami as President and Chief Executive Officer on December 10 to succeed co-founder Dheeraj Pandey, who announced his plans to retire.
Before joining Nutanix, Ramaswami served as Chief Operating Officer of Products and Cloud Services at VMware. Before this, Ramaswami led VMware's Networking and Security business, one of the fastest-growing units in the company, as Executive Vice President and General Manager.
Ramaswami earned his B. Tech in Electrical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and his Master's Degree and PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley.
He is an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fellow and holds 36 patents, primarily in optical networking.