June 10, 2020
Welcome to Protocol Cloud, your comprehensive roundup of everything you need to know about the week in cloud and enterprise software. This week: The uncompetitiveness of noncompetes, the most interesting man at Microsoft, and why the AI-generated version of Protocol Cloud won't be arriving any time soon.
It's hard to imagine Silicon Valley evolving the way it has over the past 25 years if noncompete clauses were legal in California. But 800 miles to the north, their selective enforcement continues to hold back the most vibrant cloud-computing region on the planet.
Late last month, AWS invoked its HR Sword of Damocles and filed a lawsuit against Brian Hall, a vice president of marketing at the Seattle-based cloud leader who left the company to take a similar job with Google Cloud. AWS alleges that Hall should be prohibited from joining Google because he "helped develop and knows the entire confidential Amazon cloud product roadmap for 2020-21," according to the complaint. (Brian, my DMs are open.)
AWS is well within its rights to include standard noncompete clauses in its employment contracts under Washington law, but the way it enforces those clauses creates a chilling effect in the back of every AWS employee's mind — and a red flag for those thinking about joining the company.
There are plenty of compelling reasons to work for AWS, an industry leader that has attracted some of the best talent in tech. Yet the long game here seems unsustainable, especially for a company that's such a big potential antitrust target.
If Washington state really wants to be seen as a tech hub on par with Silicon Valley, it would be smart to take a closer look at how these noncompete clauses are affecting competition. Technology — especially cloud technology — can change so much within the 18-month noncompetition period specified in many of these clauses, and forcing people to sit on the sidelines for that long can have outsized effects on their career.
Join us for Protocol's Transformation of Work Summit on June 23 at noon ET. A discussion of where in-demand skills meet job opportunity. First speakers announced: Congressional Future of Work Caucus co-chairs Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Representative Bryan Steil (R-WI). This event is presented by Workday.
Speed racer: Microsoft CISO Bret Arsenault has been a commercial fisherman, a race-car driver, an asphalt layer and the top executive in charge of protecting Microsoft's digital assets against some of the biggest threats on the planet. Over a 30-year career at the company, he's amassed some amazing stories, and we couldn't include them all in this profile.
Cop, out? Should big tech companies reconsider contracts that help police departments conduct a mission that is under intense scrutiny? The calls are only growing louder as tech companies pledge support for the Black Lives Matter movement while continuing to profit from their relationship with America's police.
Face, off: Along the same lines, IBM made a minor splash Monday by announcing it would no longer sell facial recognition tools, a move that prompted jeers from those in Twitter's cheap seats wondering how much money IBM actually sacrificed here. Under pressure to cut costs as revenue continues to decline, the move isn't as altruistic as it might appear.
What's the best piece of advice you could give to someone starting their first tech job?
I have two pieces of advice. The first is: It's not about what you can learn during your first 100 days – it's quickly executing a "first 100 hours" plan to immerse yourself in the company and the culture. It's also important to consider: If you have a ten-year strategic plan, you should ask yourself, "why can't I accomplish this in six months?"
Mac or PC?
I'm a PC guy when it comes to my work computer. I have an affinity towards PCs from my time working at HP and Dell. However, we have several Macs at home, as well.
iPhone or Android?
While I love both Android and Google, I'm pretty inseparable from my iPhone.
What will be the biggest challenge for cloud computing over the coming decade?
Now, more than ever, IT professionals should focus on cost savings, the ability to scale up or down, security, and agility to stay on pace with the shifting market. Uncertainty in the global economy is obviously a challenge, but the pandemic is actually accelerating customers' journey to the cloud.
Will the pandemic usher in a new era of remote working, or will we all come back together when it is safe to do so?
Currently, we have more than 99.5% of (employees) around the world working from home, and we will not return to our offices until I feel 100% confident it's safe to do so. Whether or not the future of work is remote, the pandemic has accelerated the pace of innovation and has many businesses fast-tracking IT modernization plans. This will have the most significant impact on the future of the cloud for years to come.
Thanks for reading — see you next week.