HP Loses Several Top Vertica Execs As Big Data Talent Wars Heat Up

Hewlett-Packard's Vertica team has lost several top executives since former CEO Chris Lynch stepped down in March, and most of them have ended up at competing big data analytics vendors.

In the past month, Vertica CTO Dan Holle left HP to take the CTO position at Greenplum, a division of EMC; Mingsheng Hong, who according to his LinkedIn profile was field CTO at Vertica, left to become chief data scientist at Hadapt; Renee Bochman, director of customer service, left to become vice president of client services at Kyruus; and Brian Murphy, regional sales director, left to take the same position at Hadapt.

An HP spokesperson confirmed the departures to CRN on Monday. The ex-Vertica executives have also updated their LinkedIn profiles to reflect their new positions.

[Related: HP Storage Integrates Autonomy Tech For Context-Based Archiving, Search, Cloud ]

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HP also confirmed that Scott Howser, Vertica's vice president of product marketing; Vinay Samuel, vice president of Asia Pacific sales; and Andy Stubley, vice president of EMEA sales are no longer with the company.

Competition for talent in the big data space is becoming ferocious, and the Vertica defections are not, on their own, a sign of trouble at HP. Still, the talent exodus is likely to hamper HP's plan to become a major player in big data analytics, one HP partner told CRN.

"The problem for HP is that it does not have anything close to EMC/Greenplum and IBM Netezza," said one source, who requested anonymity. "Without the folks to continue developing Vertica, that group could be in trouble."

HP acquired Vertica last March for a reported $350 million. Lynch, an outspoken big data evangelist, is now a partner at Atlas Venture, a Cambridge, Mass.-based venture capital firm.

But despite the string of exits that have followed his departure, one source familiar with the matter told CRN that all the original designers of Vertica's core technology are still with the company.

NEXT: Murky Future For HP's Information Management Group

Vertica was originally cast as one of the pillars of HP's Information Management business unit, along with Autonomy.

Last November, HP integrated Vertica with Autonomy in a new offering called the Next-Generation Information Platform. The idea was to pair Vertica's ability to analyze structured data, which is stored in relational databases, with Autonomy's ability to work with so-called unstructured data -- e.g. emails, instant messages and video.

But in March, without explanation, HP moved Vertica into its Software division, which at the time was led by Bill Veghte, executive vice president and chief strategy officer. HP last week brought in George Kadifa, venture capitalist and former CEO of application service provider Corio, to run the Software division. The constant re-organizations are one reason why Vertica employees are jumping ship, the source told CRN.

Meanwhile, the future of HP's Information Management group is unclear after Mike Lynch, its co-founder and CEO, was fired last month after missing his quarterly sales targets. Around 20 percent of the Autonomy team is said to have left HP since last October, including Sushovan Hussain, president; Peter Menell, CTO; Nicole Eagan, CMO; Andy Kanter, COO; Steve Chamberlain, CFO; and Martina King, head of Aurasma.

Veghte, who last week was named COO at HP, has been tasked with leading Autonomy out of its current difficulties. Kadifa, as head of HP Software, is apparently responsible for Vertica, but the HP spokesperson could not confirm this.

Despite the turmoil, HP channel partners remain intrigued by the potential for Autonomy and Vertica, and they're going to hear more about HP's plans for big data this week at HP Discover. How much longer partners' interest continues will depend on HP's ability to retain the human capital gained in its big data analytics acquisitions.