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MongoDB Poaches Top Amazon Executives to Compete With AWS

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(Bloomberg) -- Database vendor MongoDB Inc.’s strategy to compete with Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud division is becoming clear: hire away executives.

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Over the past two years, MongoDB has poached eight senior leaders from Amazon Web Services to help guide its own technology, sales, marketing, developer relations and hiring efforts.

The company tapped Mark Porter, the former general manager of AWS’s relational database business, as chief technology officer in 2020. Ian Massingham, the previous director of startup solutions architecture at AWS, joined as the vice president of developer relations in September. Matt Asay, AWS former head of developer marketing, joined MongoDB in August as the global head of partner marketing. Former AWS executives Frank Chisholm, Melissa Wilhelm, Rikki Endsley, Raj Taheem and Peder Ulander also joined in 2021.

“I have a lot of respect for both Amazon and AWS,” said MongoDB Chief Executive Officer Dev Ittycheria. The people we’ve hired “understand open source really well, understand the cloud really well and understand how to engage with developers.”

AWS is one of MongoDB’s closest partners. Porter even presented at the cloud unit’s Re:Invent annual conference. While the companies work together, they also have competing products. And despite the congeniality that exists between the two vendors, the rivalry has occasionally turned more prickly. Porter, for example, recently pushed back on AWS’s claims that one of its database products is compatible with one from MongoDB.

“AWS and MongoDB have a close partnership and have worked together for many years to help our mutual customers be successful with their cloud deployments,” an AWS spokesperson said. “Every career decision is personal but we are happy to see AWS customers and partners continuing to benefit from the talent of our former employees. Like with any company, people leave AWS from time to time for personal or professional reasons, with many returning to the company over the course of their careers.”

It’s not surprising MongoDB would tap AWS as the New York-based company looks to increase its business to $1 billion in annual revenue and beyond. Alongside Microsoft Corp. and open source tools, AWS is one of the industry’s biggest database providers. Meanwhile, MongoDB has emerged as a leader in a rush of new companies that are trying to define the future of the market.

Over the past decade, the company grew in prominence alongside smaller competitors like Couchbase Inc. as NoSQL technology became more popular. Unlike relational databases made famous by Oracle Corp. that rely on rows and columns, NoSQL, which stands for “not only SQL,” can work with non-tabular structures. Advocates say the method for storing and retrieving data can handle the much faster processing times that modern applications require.

While the NoSQL industry went through a wave of consolidation, it’s now gaining a more firm foothold. MongoDB sales grew 50% to $227 million in the most recent quarter, buoyed by strong adoption of its new cloud-based product, Atlas, that currently makes up the bulk of the company’s revenue. Oracle, AWS and Microsoft also sell NoSQL database products. MongoDB shares jumped 50% this year, closing Tuesday at $538.46 in New York.

Ittycheria argues that MongoDB has an opening to compete more aggressively because AWS has complicated its product suite with too many offerings.

“Customers are already overwhelmed with all of the services that Amazon already has. And a lot of the services are overlapping,” Ittycheria said. “At some point, their strength can become their weakness because they have to reconcile and rationalize all the services that they have.”

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