Pivotal Employees To VMware: ‘Do Not Betray Our Trust’ With Layoffs

‘As we contemplate becoming VMware employees and stockholders, we are considering important questions. Can we build enough trust to be as committed to VMware as we are to Pivotal?’ says Pivotal employees in an open letter to Pivotal and VMware leaders.


In an open letter signed by hundreds of Pivotal employees to VMware and Pivotal Software leaders, workers urged the two companies to not layoff staff after discovering cuts might be ahead after VMware acquires Pivotal for $2.7 billion.

“It feels as though you have cast aside vital collaborators in the building of this business for no particular reason. It is not right, it will not work, and it is not kind,” said the open letter asking VMware to retain staff, signed by over 200 Pivotal employees, one source told CRN. “As we contemplate becoming VMware employees and stockholders, we are considering important questions. Can we build enough trust to be as committed to VMware as we are to Pivotal?”

Pivotal, which is owned by Dell Technologies, is set to be acquired by VMware – also majority owned by Dell Technologies – for $2.7 billion. Employees at Pivotal recently discovered that the company will face staff cuts of up to 150 people after VMware closes on the acquisition, which was first reported by Business Insider. When reached, Pivotal declined to comment on the matter.

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A large portion of these layoffs will come from Pivotal’s Workplace Operations business unit, responsible for helping onboard new hires, maintaining corporate culture, managing Pivotal offices and setting up events. VMware plans to replace the business unit with a contractor, according to the letter.

“We understand that mergers are complex; perfection is impossible. However, the decision to replace Workplace Operations reveals a crucial gap in VMware’s understanding of Pivotal as an organization, and VMware’s understanding of our needs as practitioners,” said the letter signed by Pivotal employees. “Beyond this functional-understanding concern, it’s important for you to understand the morale impact of this decision on those employees to whom you intend to retain.”

In a statement to CRN, VMware said the two companies are working together to ensure the combined organization will “be structured for success.”

“We look forward to welcoming Pivotal team members to VMware and beginning the integration efforts when the transaction closes, and are excited to combine Pivotal’s development platform, tools and services with VMware’s infrastructure capabilities to help customers build, run and manage modern applications,” said a VMware spokesman.

Pivotal is a software specialist with a strong focus on DevOps and Kubernetes, owner of the highly popular Pivotal Container Service (PKS). The 3,000-strong San Francisco-based company is set to be acquired by VMware very soon.

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, who was voted the best CEO in America in 2019 by Glassdoor, said this year that he is “thrilled” to have Pivotal become part of VMware.

“With the acquisition of Pivotal, VMware will go from the best infrastructure software company to the best infrastructure and developer software. We can now serve our customers from hypervisor to developer tooling as they embark on the journey to cloud and undertake the biggest modernization in history,” said Gelsinger.

In the open letter, employees said Pivotal’s Workplace Operations helped build the company alongside engineering, product management, data science, platform engineering and “many other disciplines”.

“If WorkOps is a disposable practice, what makes our other disciplines safe from similar outsourcing?” said the letter. “VMware appears to be taking a dictatorial approach on details of the acquisition. This approach is harmful; it appears leaders we have trusted are being brushed aside and made ineffectual.”

The letter urged VMware and Pivotal to find a solution and proceed “more thoughtfully” with the acquisition. “What we will not do is silently watch mistakes like this happen,” said the letter. “Our values and our commitment to this organization do not allow for it. We expect better. Do not take away the enabling core of our culture and betray our trust.”