Smartsheet fought a legal battle to hire this ex-Amazon exec -- and now it's paying him almost $1 million more than the CEO

LinkedIn/Gene FarrellGene Farrell

  • On Monday, cloud-based project management software company Smartsheet filed to go public.
  • The filing revealed that it paid exec Gene Farrell almost $US2.7 million in 2017 – that’s 70% more than CEO Mark Mader’s total compensation package of $US1.9 million.
  • Farrell is an ex-Amazon Web Services vice president who came out ahead in a non-compete lawsuit from Amazon last year after he was poached by Smartsheet.
  • It’s a look into a possible reason why Farrell was willing to risk being on the wrong side of a lawsuit, and how valuable employees from big-name software companies can be to younger startups.

On Monday, cloud-based project management software company Smartsheet filed to go public – revealing that it’s paying one star ex-Amazon executive about 70% more than CEO Mark Mader.

Back in June 2017, Smartsheet hired Gene Farrell away from Amazon Web Services, where he had been a VP overseeing the cloud titan’s growing roster of business productivity apps. Amazon alleged that by joining Smartsheet, Farrell was in violation of a non-compete clause in his contract, and slapped him with a lawsuit.

While the lawsuit was pending, Amazon won a temporarily restraining order, preventing Farrell from starting at Smartsheet. Amazon dropped the suit a few weeks later after the parties reached an agreement that placed “temporary restrictions on the scope of Gene’s role at Smartsheet.” His title at Smartsheet is Senior VP of Product.

Regardless of the drama, we now have a glimpse at roughly how much Farrell was worth to Smartsheet: In the year ending January 31, 2018, Farrell was paid a total of $US2,689,869 in compensation, while CEO Mark Mader was paid $US1,898,123.

It’s a telling look at how valuable an executive from Amazon can be to a software startup that’s looking to grow. And the hefty payday could indicate why Farrell was willing to risk a lawsuit from Amazon in making the move.

“Gene Farrell is a proven business leader with a track record of being on the cutting edge of technology innovation,” Mader said in his 2017 statement in response to Amazon’s lawsuit. “We’re confident that he’ll play an important role as we continue to advance Smartsheet’s leading position in collaborative work management.”

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