HP Vertica Continues Losing Top Talent To Big Data Startups

Hewlett-Packard's Vertica team is continuing to lose high ranking employees to Boston-area big data startups, in a sign of the intensifying battle for talent in one of enterprise software's hottest segments.

Hadapt, a Cambridge, Mass.-based big data startup that has been especially aggressive of late in cherry-picking Vertica staffers, on Monday announced the hiring of Scott Howser as vice president of marketing, a position he previously held at Vertica before leaving in May.

Howser joins Mingsheng Hong, who joined Hadapt in June as chief data scientist after spending the previous four years at Vertica as field CTO; and Brian Murphy, former Vertica regional sales director, who joined Hadapt in May in the same role.

HP closed its acquisition of Vertica last March. The deal, reportedly in the neighborhood of $350 million, was ex-HP CEO Leo Apotheker's first step toward remaking HP into an enterprise software player. It brought HP a real-time analytics platform capable of handling large volumes of data in physical, virtual and cloud environments.

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[Related: HP Loses Several Top Vertica Execs As Big Data Talent Wars Heat Up ]

However, sources familiar with the situation told CRN the ongoing talent drain from Vertica could impact HP's ability to leverage these assets. In the past two months, HP's Vertica team has lost around 20 employees from a team of roughly 150, and the defections are likely to continue as big data startups recruit more aggressively for talent, sources said.

This month, Karen Harris, principal software engineer at Vertica, moved to Ipswitch as lead client developer; and Sarah Foster, business development manager at Vertica Systems, left to become director of sales and marketing at Solano Labs, a San Francisco-based developer of cloud based software development and testing tools.

Jason Coville, Vertica's director of inside sales, left in June and is now vice president of sales at InsightSquared, a Cambridge, Mass.-based big data startup focused on the SMB space.

HP did not respond to a request for confirmation of their departures, but all three have updated their LinkedIn profiles to reflect their new positions.

Kyruus, a Boston based big data startup in the health-care space, last week announced the hiring of Renee Bochman, former director of customer service at Vertica, as vice president of client services. Shilpa Lawande, vice president of engineering at Vertica, is taking on Bochman's customer support duties, according to her recently updated LinkedIn profile.

Lawande, who has been with Vertica since 2005 and previously spent seven years as a member of Oracle's technical staff, is one of the most highly regarded members of the Vertica team. "Shilpa is truly a superstar," Vertica co-founder and former CEO Andy Palmer wrote in a 2007 recommendation listed on Lawande's LinkedIn page. "She's a unique talent in the database industry."

HP declined to comment on the significance of Lawande's expanded role. But her LinkedIn page invites database professionals to submit their resumes, an indication that she is involved in repopulating Vertica's talent ranks.

NEXT: Origins Of The Vertica Exodus

Vertica's talent exodus began in March when Vertica CEO Chris Lynch left HP to become a partner at Atlas Venture, a Cambridge, Mass.-based venture capital firm.

In May, Vertica CTO Dan Holle left HP to take the CTO position at Greenplum, a division of EMC.

There is also a well-worn path from Vertica to Cloudant, a Cambridge, Mass.-based startup founded in 2008 by three MIT physicists. Derek Schoettle, former vice president of communications, media and entertainment at Vertica, left in November to become CEO of Cloudant. Rob O'Brien, a former field engineer at Vertica, is now vice president of customer service at Cloudant. Andy Ellicott, vice president of marketing at Cloudant, was senior marketing director at Vertica from 2006 to 2009.

HP last November established Vertica and Autonomy as the cornerstones of its Information Management business unit, but that plan lasted all of four months.

In March, HP moved Vertica into its Software division, which at the time was led by Bill Veghte, executive vice president and chief strategy officer. In May, HP moved Veghte to COO and hired George Kadifa, venture capitalist and former CEO of application service provider Corio, to run the Software division.

Vertica was supposed to be a channel play, but at this point it is tough to find HP partners that sell it. HP is telling partners they will be able to resell Vertica products starting Dec. 1, but HP did not respond to a request for confirmation.

In the meantime, the lack of communication from HP on Vertica, combined with the constant leadership changes, has caused at least one HP partner to shift their sales focus to competing big data analytics products.

"We were paying attention to Vertica for a while because it looked like a fit with our big data initiatives," said the source, who requested anonymity. "But since Vertica was put into the same group with Autonomy, they have been completely off the radar. We're not even looking at those products."