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‘Bro, who would stay?’ Texts from former Tanium employees surface as the $9 billion startup sues them and the firm that poached them.

  • Tanium, a $9 billion cybersecurity startup, is suing rival Wiz after it poached four top sales reps.
  • Tanium hired a forensics firm to go through texts from the corporate laptop of a former employee.
  • Tanium said the departing employees stole customer lists. Wiz said nothing of value was taken.

Tanium, a $9 billion cybersecurity startup, is locked in a bitter legal battle with the cloud-security startup Wiz after Wiz hired four of Tanium’s top sales employees earlier this year.

Tanium filed lawsuits in May against the $1.7 billion Wiz and two of the employees, saying the former workers took proprietary sales information and poached customers, as well as other workers. Wiz said the employees didn’t take any valuable information from Tanium.

Court documents filed recently in a Georgia district court, and seen by Insider, include dozens of texts between the former employees, as well as emails and LinkedIn records. Tanium obtained the texts by hiring a digital forensics team to search one of the workers’ computers, while the other documents were found through the court’s discovery process. 

The lawsuits underscore the fierce competition for talent in the booming cybersecurity industry, as well as how much information can be gleaned from corporate devices.

The suits also shed light on internal issues at Tanium, which has struggled to retain a chief marketing officer and has debated an initial public offering for years, irritating employees — as some insiders previously told Insider.

Wiz’s attorneys said in legal documents that Tanium filed its lawsuits because it wanted to “punish” the former employees for leaving and “send a clear signal” to its current employees that they will be sued if they leave to work for Wiz. 

“We’re proud that the best employees in the world want to work for Wiz,” a company spokesperson said. “We have full confidence the courts will see past this baseless suit.”

Tanium and its attorneys did not respond to requests for comment.

‘Tanium is going to lose its mind’

The tension began after Wiz hired four workers that Tanium described in its lawsuit as “high-level, extremely well-compensated, key sales employees” who cumulatively handled $25 million worth of customer contracts.

After the employees resigned, Tanium hired a digital forensics firm to inspect one of their corporate laptops. Tanium’s lawsuit includes copies of texts in which, Tanium said, the departing employees appear to discuss exporting Tanium’s customer contact information and building a new team at Wiz with other Tanium sales representatives, as well as personal details such as workouts and parties.

The messages also show that workers expected Tanium to be upset at their departures. 

“Tanium is going to lose its mind,” one of the employees texted another in February, shows a screenshot of the exchange that Tanium entered as evidence. 

One exchange shows a conversation about people leaving for Wiz.

Text messages between former Tanium employees

Text messages between former Tanium employees.

Screenshot via lawsuit


Another February text exchange appears to reference Tanium’s CEO, Orion Hindawi, with one employee writing — apparently sarcastically — “Orion will love us,” and the other quipping back that it could inspire him to sell the company.

“I wonder who else is going to leave we don’t know about,” one employee asked, with the other replying, “Bro who would stay??”

Tanium-Wiz texts

Tanium said in court documents that it captured texts between employees who left and went to a competitor.

Pacer


Both cases are still ongoing. In a ruling handed down on Wednesday in one case, Georgia district court’s Judge Mark Cohen denied Tanium’s request for an injunction to stop Wiz from hiring more Tanium employees or using the obtained sales contact information, though he did weigh in that the information could constitute trade secrets. 

During testimony, the judge also asked one of the former Tanium employees whether he still thought it was appropriate to download sales contacts from an employer before leaving.

“I’ve seen the mess that we have landed in from doing this,” the employee replied. He added, “I would never do this again.”

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at [email protected], Signal at 646.376.6106, Telegram at @rosaliechan, or Twitter DM at @rosaliechan17. (PR pitches by email only, please.) Other types of secure messaging available upon request.


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