Hewlett Packard’s Giovanni (John) Visentin, formerly of IBM, and an online, courtroom hero of mine.

Earlier this month, I wanted to mention that a former IBMer by the name of John Visentin was recently promoted at Hewlett Packard to something fairly big: head of enterprise services.

How I know about Visentin is that he is one side of the “v” in a Southern District of New York case, IBM v. Visentin, 11-cv-399, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15342, 2011 WL 672025, SDNY, 2/16/2011. I have written about this one previously, and am following the case. It’s interesting to me because of two things:

1) how IBM wrote a contract, and then tried to interpret it overbroadly, against Mr. Visentin’s interests; and

2) how quickly IBM got its day in court (a mere 2 weeks later), while that same company drags out responses for years, if they can.

Mr. Visentin had the right to leave IBM and work for another employer. It’s pretty clear that he had a lot of talent, and so the proper course of action for IBM was to pay him right, or ask for a non-compete deal that accurately reflected the situation between Mr. Visentin and the company.

This case is already being misinterpreted in the blogosphere, that somehow the Chief Judge, Loretta Preska, had “rewritten the contract” [sorry, “modified” the contract.] But, if you read the judge’s opinion, (linked above at the case cite,) she is clear what happened was that IBM wrote an overbroad contract, i.e. one that is illegal because it interfered with Mr. Visentin’s liberty interest, and is therefore void.

The real problem is that IBM wanted to make the contract “do” whatever IBM had in mind. You can bet that that is not the only IBM contract written that way.

Good luck and good fortune to Mr. Visentin, a guy who can now show HP the way.

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2 comments

  1. Tom Watson · August 22, 2012

    Why don’t you search on him now… HP seems to have lost its way thanks to Big John – it’s the same thing he did at IBM that had his back against the wall before he made the narrow escape to the left coast. He’s the most incompetent IT leader of our times and it’s great to see that even a colossal mess of a company like HP finally figured it out!

    • hoofin · August 23, 2012

      Well, you know, I did catch the headlines that Mr. Visentin was leaving HP to pursue other interests. But the rest of what you say sounds slanted, like you really aren’t familiar with Mr. Visentin, HP or IBM. IBM sued Visentin for leaving the company. They refused to discuss even his reasonable offer of a transition. If he was some kind of turkey, I don’t think they would have tried to prevent him from working for another firm.

      I know this is a bad habit of tech companies, suing employees who leave. Why would IBM have done that, though, if he were leaving for a competitor, and, as you say, going to make a “colossal mess”?

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