Splunk became the poster child for big data tech companies in 2012 when it became the first big data startup to go public. Investors were so hot for the stock on the first day of trading that it was halted for a while.
One of HP’s units, its Enterprise Security Division, sells a product called “ArcSight” that competes with Splunk.
A handful of employees at that division got the idea to operate a website called “splunkfail.com,” along with a Twitter handle (@splunkfail) and a YouTube account (“Splunk F”), according to documents of complaint filed with WIPO by Splunk’s lawyers.
They then proceeded to post a stream of insults to the sites like these, according to the complaint:
“Just invented a splunk sandwhich [sic], take two pieces of bread and a bunch of soggy logs with no security and put them together.” #splunkfail” (March 26, 2014 @splunkfail).
“Splunk is a security company #AprilFoolsDay.” (April 1, 2014 @splunkfail).
Some of the tweets and posts comments were in such poor taste we won’t repeat them in full here. Others went so far as to accuse Splunk of “pissing off a lot of customers lately.”
Naturally, Splunk got wind and its lawyers complained to HP’s Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer Ashley Watson. An investigation found that four HP employees and/or HP contractors were involved, the WIPO documents say.
HP promptly did the right thing and put the kibosh on it all.
Splunkfail.com was quickly and voluntarily taken down, the tweets deleted, and so on. HP’s lawyers also implied that these employees had gone rogue, noting that the company didn’t own the site and couldn’t be held responsible for it.
The website owners also dutifully turned the domain name over to Splunk just as WIPO ruled that the owners of the website had no right to use Splunk’s name in that way anyway.
Moral of the story: badly executed guerrilla warfare is still alive and well in the enterprise tech market. We thought it might have died when Microsoft pulled the plug on its Scroogled campaign, but alas, not so.
HP declined further comment.