Just when you thought it couldn’t get any crazier, today SuccessFactors claimed new evidence that suggests “…Softscape representatives masqueraded as a prospective customer – New Millenium Shoe (www.newmilleniumshoe.com) purportedly operating out of Puerto Rico – in order to gain unauthorized access to SuccessFactors sales materials and SuccessFactors’ password-protected sales demonstration site.” The claim was part of the grant of preliminary injunction in the lawsuit against Softscape.
Over the past few weeks, we have seen harsh competition being played out the public eye between the two talent management vendors. SuccessFactors has proceeded quickly and aggressively against Softscape whom they consider cause irreparable damage (and illegal conduct) to them. Softscape in return has aggressively countered SuccessFactors claims by referring to them as a “hostile industry predator”.
In response to today’s claims, though, Softscape has softened its stance by simply saying, “Softscape is taking this matter very seriously as it continues its own investigation, and respects the Court’s careful consideration on this matter. Softscape does not condone the use of this type of tactic during the sales process, and the company has specifically instructed its sales force not to engage in any dissemination of the presentation.” I would assume their new “California Lawyer of the Year” is advising them on their new public relations approach.
Today’s announcements by both companies further creates more fodder in an already complex and competitive market. Both companies are also battling in the court of public opinion which, right now, is just as important as the behind the scenes legal manuevering.
Beyond the fodder, though, here are my outstanding questions I want answered…
- How did Softscape get access to all of the the information in the presentation not obtained on the demo site? I consider the information in the document so highly sensitive that it could not be gained by using traditional competitive intelligence techniques. Plain and simple, the information in the presentation could be accessed through a demo, downloaded collateral or a corporate presentation.
- Who is “John Anonymous”? SuccessFactors has been granted permission from the courts to hunt down John Anonymous via internet tracking and IP communications by obtaining the records of the respective service providers. I am confident Softscape is also turning the place upside down to see if John Anonymous also wears a Softscape badge. If John Anonymous was smart enough to head to an Internet cafe far from his house, create a Gmail account and distribute the document from there, we will probably never find the source. If this document was distributed by a Softscape server, location or employee we are sure to find out. What happens, though, if John Anonymous turns out to be a SuccessFactors customers as many have suggested (I have never seen it but have been told customers do have such vengeance). Or what about a SuccessFactors employee or ex-employee (I’m just throwing it out there)? I would be surprised if Softscape requested the same subpoena to allow them to search SuccessFactors records.
- How did John Anonymous get his hands on so many highly targeted email addresses? How did John Anonymous get the email addresses of so many SuccessFactors customers, influencers, and prospects, some of which are in final evaluation? Additionally, why were some vendors highly targeted (over 20 employees received the email from John Anonymous) and others vendors, I would consider “in the know” left off the distribution?
I am confident all facts will be reviewed rigorously by both sides and hope this situation will get resolved quickly and prudently. I do sense enterprise customers are watching with interest and view the situation as important for them. As we know, the customer-vendor relationship can be challenging, complex, and frustrating at times. But integrity of all is at the core and lack of integrity and credibility can be a kiss of death for a vendor and very hard to recover after its been perceived.