or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Steve Jobs threatened 'war' as Google tried to poach Safari engineers for nascent browser team
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Steve Jobs threatened 'war' as Google tried to poach Safari engineers for nascent browser team

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
Google may have sparked the Silicon Valley anti-poaching scandal when the company infuriated Steve Jobs by attempting to lure members of Apple's Safari team to work on Google's then-nascent browser effort, according to internal emails revealed in new court filings.

Email from Sergey Brin


Jobs was "very agitated" when he heard of Google's recruiting efforts, Google co-founder Sergey Brin wrote to members of the search giant's executive management group in early February 2005. An agreement not to recruit from one another was in place less than one month later, court documents obtained by PandoDaily show.

"I told him we were not building a browser and that to my knowledge we were not systematically going after the Safari team in particular," Brin wrote following a phone call from Jobs before revealing an internal browser project a few sentences later: "I did not mention we may release an enhanced version [of Mozilla Firefox] but I am not sure we are going to yet," he said.

Former Google engineering chief Alan Eustace and former Google staffing director Arnnon Geshuri followed up, telling Brin that the company had in fact been actively recruiting at least three members of the Safari team. Eustace said that he had been after one of the engineers, whose name was redacted from the documents, for months because that developer was "absolutely one of the best in the world at browser technology."

Email from Allan Eustace


Brin received another "irate call" from Jobs a few days later, and revealed Jobs's threat in a followup email:

"Basically, he said 'if you hire a single one of these people [from the Safari team] that means war,'" Brin wrote. He then went on to suggest that Google temporarily stop recruiting from Apple's browser team, just nine days before the first mention of the anti-poaching agreement between the two companies.

The pact expanded from there, eventually covering nearly thirty companies ranging from Silicon Valley firms like Apple and Genentech to British media giant NTL and advertising agency Ogilvy. Following a settlement with the Department of Justice, the companies involved are now facing a class action lawsuit alleging that they conspired to drive down wages. That suit is set to go to trial in May.

post #2 of 47
This might be silly, ad it might be everything that is wrong with tech "fans" today but I love this "wars" and power struggles between this companies. I like to thing that is comparable to what soccer fans feel about their teams. I don't know.
post #3 of 47
Who knew, Safari had one of the best in the world at browser technology. No wonder Google went with WebKit, monkey see monkey do.
bb
Reply
bb
Reply
post #4 of 47
It wasn't conspiring to keep wages down. If top Safari engineers went to some company making fishing rods where they earned more money I don't believe Jobs would have raged. It's top engineers taking trade secrets to a competitor who wants to undermine your sales that makes one rage.
post #5 of 47
Besides, When you're earning 10 bucks an hour, driving down wages is understandably fretful. But when you're earning 75 bucks an hour, it doesn't quite have the same weight of outrage.
post #6 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by pembroke View Post

Besides, When you're earning 10 bucks an hour, driving down wages is understandably fretful. But when you're earning 75 bucks an hour, it doesn't quite have the same weight of outrage.

I suspect that the people Google was interested in poaching would be making far more than a mere $75/hr by at least several multiples. Apple, along other big companies, may have broken the law here, but I seriously doubt they cared much at all about "keeping wages down". Apple probably viewed it as a trade secret issue, but primarily they probably didn't want the disruption that would come from losing key people.

post #7 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by pembroke View Post

Besides, When you're earning 10 bucks an hour, driving down wages is understandably fretful. But when you're earning 75 bucks an hour, it doesn't quite have the same weight of outrage.

I'm far from being paid that, but I beg to disagree. If your value to the company is 200 bucks an hour and they pay you 75, you have higher weight of outrage than one that is paid 10 and has a value of 11.

Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

Reply

Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

Reply
post #8 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by sessamoid View Post
 

I suspect that the people Google was interested in poaching would be making far more than a mere $75/hr by at least several multiples. Apple, along other big companies, may have broken the law here, but I seriously doubt they cared much at all about "keeping wages down". Apple probably viewed it as a trade secret issue, but primarily they probably didn't want the disruption that would come from losing key people.

Agreed, but this is exactly the reason why the DoJ is after them.

 

Yes, it would have been disruptive. Yes, it brings security/trade secret issues.

 

No, you can't start doing that kind of things, because it's one of the strengths of capitalism, the very doctrine that enabled those giants to be giants in the first place...

Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

Reply

Social Capitalist, dreamer and wise enough to know I'm never going to grow up anyway... so not trying anymore.

 

http://m.ign.com/articles/2014/07/16/7-high-school-girls-are-kickstarting-their-awa...

Reply
post #9 of 47

We love free market, except when it gets in our way of making profit and exploiting talent at the lowest possible cost.

This is going to drive up the cost of engineers in the Silicon Valley, but before they all rejoice they should realize that it's going to bring offshoring back on the front burner...

post #10 of 47
Non-compete agreements are illegal under US Antitrust Laws. Normally, such agreements are used to keep prices high or divide territories. I can't remember when companies colluded to 'fix' the price of labor. Whether and how the courts will rule on this will set the tone for years to come, in Silicon Valley. While I suspect Steve Jobs was mostly concerned with loosing talented engineers and not trade secrets or keeping salary costs down, it's the effects of these that will be argued by the lawyers.
post #11 of 47

First, and this has happen in the past, and long before this happen, if you want to slow a competitor down hirer their best and brightest and offer then ungodly money to make them leave, it not about what the person is worth but what it is worth not to have them working for the competitor. No company want to be in a pay escalation war to try and keep good people. So I so not believe companies where trying to keep wages down, but keep them form skyrocketing because of the business tactic. 

 

Notice how Google lied again to Apple by saying they were not making a browser. Google is had been practicing lying for awhile now. Also notice how they said the people can not respond to a google posting but someone who they already hired gave them a list of safari engineers and they were actively going after them.

 

Here you go Steve who obviously recommend Larry to be on their board since he knew the advertising was key to the success or mobile devices and the how time Google was just looking to steal what they were doing.

post #12 of 47
The interesting CC: Bill Campbell.

In short, Sergey was CC'ing Campbell to act as an intermediary because the guys doesn't have the balls nor principles to respect someone who gave mentoring advice when he was nothing but a pissant student at Stanford.
post #13 of 47

I imagine, he would have done something big to punish all the copycats in his lifetime if he was alive today plus innovate as always! 

post #14 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by karmadave View Post

Non-compete agreements are illegal under US Antitrust Laws. Normally, such agreements are used to keep prices high or divide territories. I can't remember when companies colluded to 'fix' the price of labor. Whether and how the courts will rule on this will set the tone for years to come, in Silicon Valley. While I suspect Steve Jobs was mostly concerned with loosing talented engineers and not trade secrets or keeping salary costs down, it's the effects of these that will be argued by the lawyers.

It was a conspiracy to reduce someone's pay, or potential pay. Jobs had two options.

 

1) shout at Google and engineer a cartel.

2) Offer much more money to the engineers who were being targeted. If they were that good they were worth it. After all companies are often bought for millions, with the talent attached, often for the talent.

I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
Reply
I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
Reply
post #15 of 47

It is good for Apple to have these anti-poaching agreements.  If someone ever works for Apple, they should not be allowed to take their knowledge and skills someplace else and compete with them.  That wouldn't be fair.

post #16 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
 

First, and this has happen in the past, and long before this happen, if you want to slow a competitor down hirer their best and brightest and offer then ungodly money to make them leave, it not about what the person is worth but what it is worth not to have them working for the competitor. No company want to be in a pay escalation war to try and keep good people. So I so not believe companies where trying to keep wages down, but keep them form skyrocketing because of the business tactic. 

 

Thats a distinction without a difference.

I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
Reply
I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
Reply
post #17 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SudoNym View Post
 

It is good for Apple to have these anti-poaching agreements.  If someone ever works for Apple, they should not be allowed to take their knowledge and skills someplace else and compete with them.  That wouldn't be fair.

Jesus wept. Are you saying that to work for Apple you cant work anywhere else again, that you are a slave for life? What about the other way, should Apple not hire Google engineers, or people who work on Maps elsewhere. Or health? 

 

Everybody learns something at companies. You cant sell the IP but you can sell yourself.

I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
Reply
I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
Reply
post #18 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by pembroke View Post

It wasn't conspiring to keep wages down. If top Safari engineers went to some company making fishing rods where they earned more money I don't believe Jobs would have raged. It's top engineers taking trade secrets to a competitor who wants to undermine your sales that makes one rage.

Exactly.  Just as long a you never work in consumer electronics ever again, there will be no problems.  If you want to work in consumer electronics, you need to stay with Apple.  Simple.

post #19 of 47

Apple is wrong here but so is google. Its against the law to interfere with a business contract. Google was actively trying to do just that. 

post #20 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SudoNym View Post

Exactly.  Just as long a you never work in consumer electronics ever again, there will be no problems.  If you want to work in consumer electronics, you need to stay with Apple.  Simple.
That's ridiculous.
post #21 of 47
Notice that the defenders of the cartel don't think Apple should have paid engineers their true value but nobody blinks when managers or executives are hired for millions. The best technical people in technical companies - the top 1% of the top 5% who get offered jobs in Apple - should be paid as much as some execs at least.
I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
Reply
I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
Reply
post #22 of 47
So Brin was either clueless as to what his staff was doing, or he's a liar.
post #23 of 47

Hearsay evidence

post #24 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SudoNym View Post
 

Exactly.  Just as long a you never work in consumer electronics ever again, there will be no problems.  If you want to work in consumer electronics, you need to stay with Apple.  Simple.

And, you know what would happen if Apple tried this (and it didn't get thrown out for Apple's employee's basic human rights?  At first, likely not much, but as employees try to leave apple and get stopped, it would be a HUGE red flag to any potential talent that might otherwise want to work for Apple.  As a computer engineer, I would refuse to work for any company that said I could never work in the field. If they did that, I'd have no recourse about what to do if the situation went south.  What if my manager was a jerk?  What if I wanted to move somewhere else for personal reasons and Apple didn't do business there?  What if I never got a raise, despite deserving one?  I'd be stuck working for Apple forever.  No thanks, Apple would quickly lose potential engineers, and the experienced engineers would leave Apple in droves.

 

And of course, without these engineers, Apple wouldn't be able to make great products.... They'd manage the next 5 years okay... Releasing minor updates when they can of their products, but eventually the markets would speak, and Apple's value would tank.  In the tech industry you're only as good as your latest product, and when your latest product is a couple years old, you have next to no value.  

 

Of course, engineers hired by Apple have to sign NDAs (just like everywhere else), and sometimes sign basic non-compete agreements that say they can't work on very similar projects at other teams (although I think CA law voids these non-compete agreements).  The main goal is to prevent IP theft...  If Google used these engineers to steal designs from Apple, or find out Apple's plans, that is illegal (and many companies have gotten in serious trouble over that).  Of course, most big companies are VERY careful to avoid this, as the costs can be huge.

 

Phil

post #25 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
 

Notice how Google lied again to Apple by saying they were not making a browser. Google is had been practicing lying for awhile now. Also notice how they said the people can not respond to a google posting but someone who they already hired gave them a list of safari engineers and they were actively going after them.

 

 

Yep, because when a competing company asks what products I'm working on, I would always be honest.

post #26 of 47

If I were a software engineer I would love to be courted by companies who wanted my services. As a person with some skills (no matter what they are) I sell my work for money. I work to get money to live my life. I don't live to support some conglomerate and their profits. Any agreement a company made to stifle my life and my ability to earn money would be an act of aggression toward me. It would be a betrayal. If I worked for a company that I liked and they did all they could to prevent me from learning of other opportunities, I would get very angry. I would lose all trust for them and any semblance of allegiance to them.

 

Why should any company be allowed to block another company from offering me more money or some better opportunity? If Apple or any other company wants to prevent the loss of employees then they need to give their employees an equal or better reason to stay. When they won't do it then the employees should do what is best for themselves and change jobs. Corporations don't care about people. They care about profits. The second you aren't needed you will be kicked to the curb. Never believe otherwise.

post #27 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

If I were a software engineer I would love to be courted by companies who wanted my services. As a person with some skills (no matter what they are) I sell my work for money. I work to get money to live my life. I don't live to support some conglomerate and their profits. Any agreement a company made to stifle my life and my ability to earn money would be an act of aggression toward me. It would be a betrayal. If I worked for a company that I liked and they did all they could to prevent me from learning of other opportunities, I would get very angry. I would lose all trust for them and any semblance of allegiance to them.

Why should any company be allowed to block another company from offering me more money or some better opportunity? If Apple or any other company wants to prevent the loss of employees then they need to give their employees an equal or better reason to stay. When they won't do it then the employees should do what is best for themselves and change jobs. Corporations don't care about people. They care about profits. The second you aren't needed you will be kicked to the curb. Never believe otherwise.

This could cost a lot. Potentially every employee employed by any of the companies in the cartels involved - if proven - could sue for loss of earnings for the years the alleged cartel operated. And interest. That could run into billions across the industry.
I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
Reply
I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
Reply
post #28 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post


This could cost a lot. Potentially every employee employed by any of the companies in the cartels involved - if proven - could sue for loss of earnings for the years the alleged cartel operated. And interest. That could run into billions across the industry.

Steve Jobs caught in another conspiracy.   Maybe Bromwich needs to be looking into all of Apples hiring and salary administration too.  

post #29 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by lightknight View Post

Agreed, but this is exactly the reason why the DoJ is after them.

Yes, it would have been disruptive. Yes, it brings security/trade secret issues.

No, you can't start doing that kind of things, because it's one of the strengths of capitalism, the very doctrine that enabled those giants to be giants in the first place...
I disagree. Many of the advancements of tech has come from partnerships between honorable people. Google gained a lot from their Apple partnership, they were also given access to employees that they would not have had otherwise. If this was a non partner company I could see the problem. I can assure you that Apple will take more and more on house if they can't expect their partners to not actively go after the employees the send to work with them. I
post #30 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

It was a conspiracy to reduce someone's pay, or potential pay. Jobs had two options.

1) shout at Google and engineer a cartel.
2) Offer much more money to the engineers who were being targeted. If they were that good they were worth it. After all companies are often bought for millions, with the talent attached, often for the talent.

Yep and he chose #1 which is why Apple is being investigated by the DOJ...
post #31 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by pembroke View Post

Besides, When you're earning 10 bucks an hour, driving down wages is understandably fretful. But when you're earning 75 bucks an hour, it doesn't quite have the same weight of outrage.

Those kinds of workers would typically be salaried employees, not hourly wage earners.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #32 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post


That's ridiculous.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by philgar View Post
 

And, you know what would happen if Apple tried this (and it didn't get thrown out for Apple's employee's basic human rights?  At first, likely not much, but as employees try to leave apple and get stopped, it would be a HUGE red flag to any potential talent that might otherwise want to work for Apple.  As a computer engineer, I would refuse to work for any company that said I could never work in the field. If they did that, I'd have no recourse about what to do if the situation went south.  What if my manager was a jerk?  What if I wanted to move somewhere else for personal reasons and Apple didn't do business there?  What if I never got a raise, despite deserving one?  I'd be stuck working for Apple forever.  No thanks, Apple would quickly lose potential engineers, and the experienced engineers would leave Apple in droves.

 

And of course, without these engineers, Apple wouldn't be able to make great products.... They'd manage the next 5 years okay... Releasing minor updates when they can of their products, but eventually the markets would speak, and Apple's value would tank.  In the tech industry you're only as good as your latest product, and when your latest product is a couple years old, you have next to no value.  

 

Of course, engineers hired by Apple have to sign NDAs (just like everywhere else), and sometimes sign basic non-compete agreements that say they can't work on very similar projects at other teams (although I think CA law voids these non-compete agreements).  The main goal is to prevent IP theft...  If Google used these engineers to steal designs from Apple, or find out Apple's plans, that is illegal (and many companies have gotten in serious trouble over that).  Of course, most big companies are VERY careful to avoid this, as the costs can be huge.

 

Phil

 

 

Recognise the pattern and you'll stop responding to the poster soon.

post #33 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


Those kinds of workers would typically be salaried employees, not hourly wage earners.

 

Yes but, by using simple math, you can break their wage down into an hour figure for easy comparison.

post #34 of 47
This is about poaching and actively recruiting. No one prevented these people from pursuing opportunities at different companies. I don't quite get the outrage or what the DoJ's interest is in this.
post #35 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by sessamoid View Post

I suspect that the people Google was interested in poaching would be making far more than a mere $75/hr by at least several multiples. Apple, along other big companies, may have broken the law here, but I seriously doubt they cared much at all about "keeping wages down". Apple probably viewed it as a trade secret issue, but primarily they probably didn't want the disruption that would come from losing key people.

Yes keeping wages under control was important too, evidenced by Meg Whitman's comments( HP) to Eric Schmidt.


Google isn't the only company given ultimatums by Steve Jobs over employees either. Palm was threatened with retaliatory patent lawsuits if they didn't agree not to poach Apple employees. To Palm's credit they apparently told him to get lost in so many words. In contrast Sergey Brin and Eric Schultz were way too concerned with not upsetting Mr. Jobs and did absolutely the wrong thing. Google deserves whatever they get for this one, as of course Apple and any of the other conspirators do.
http://arstechnica.com/apple/2013/01/angry-over-employee-poaching-steve-jobs-threatened-palm-with-patent-suit/

Adobe too got on Apple's radar after having contact with one of it's employees, with Mr Jobs issuing a veiled threat to go after any and all of Adobe's top talent if they wouldn't agree to a no-poaching agreement. Adobe rolled over just like Google. 1hmm.gif
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/02/google-apple-class-action-poaching-steve-jobs-wage-theft
Edited by Gatorguy - 3/25/14 at 6:43am
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
post #36 of 47
Legally, does it matter if this anti-poaching practice is maintained within a single large corporation. i.e., location or department X will not make an offer to an employee in location or department Y without all the managers agreeing, etc. before it is made. Including interviews.

Is this wrong to hold down the ability of individuals to transfer within a large corporation, say 30-40,000 people ? If practiced, this stifles the ability of individuals to go up or go around those on the ladder.

Comments ?
post #37 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


Those kinds of workers would typically be salaried employees, not hourly wage earners.


Unimportant distinction. They were still restricting the upward compensation movement of their employees by colluding with another company. Whether the primary goal was to keep wages down or not is not important.

 

I'm sure many in Apple Legal were not very happy with Jobs doing this.

post #38 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

The interesting CC: Bill Campbell.

In short, Sergey was CC'ing Campbell to act as an intermediary because the guys doesn't have the balls nor principles to respect someone who gave mentoring advice when he was nothing but a pissant student at Stanford.

Eloquently said.
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
Reply
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
Reply
post #39 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

The interesting CC: Bill Campbell.

In short, Sergey was CC'ing Campbell to act as an intermediary because the guys doesn't have the balls nor principles to respect someone who gave mentoring advice when he was nothing but a pissant student at Stanford.
Respecting Steve Jobs requests is what's landed them in court over poaching agreements. They never should have capitulated. Yeah, they shoulda had more "balls" and done the same as Palm. Bad on Google for not doing so, and absolutely a case of doing evil IMO.
Edited by Gatorguy - 3/25/14 at 10:15am
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
post #40 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post
 

 

Thats a distinction without a difference.

Actually it is not, all I said is the pay to pull someone out of a competitor is not what the person is worth or value of doing the job they do, it is the value of slowing your competitor down. To put numbers around it, if the engineer was making $50K at apple and Google offer him $200K to leave, they person is now not worth $200K nor is the job is doing has a market value of $200K. the $200K the cost Google is willing to pay to slow Apple down. The FTC is claim that company were trying to keep wages below the $50K which the real value of the job the person was doing when in fact they were agreeing not to drive salary up to the $200K mark. I see this happen personally, company try and recruit talent away and they offer them some big number and they come back to their current employer and say they were just offer X will they match it to stay. If the original company does match and the it get out to other employees they all get the bright idea of doing the same thing to inflate their pay and companies get into a situation of deciding to pay or let them go. I even send a particular nationality of engineer actually sit in the conference room and write on a white board how much they were getting paid, (forget some we junior engineer only been out of school for a few years and others had way more experience in terms of yrs and knowledge) and they all decide that since they were all engineers they should be paid the same pay just because they we doing similar work. Talk about causing problems since now the more experience people then demand more if they gave the newer people more money.

 

Trust me this was not about trying to keep people's wages below the market, it was to keep companies from activity recruiting their employees and driving wage up to take or keep the person. I work on one company and we hire a tour bus with big signs of it that said come on in with your resume we ready to hire and park the damn thing right outside our competitors builds in various areas of the country. Talk about some nasty legal letters.

 

So this is not new, but hell the government is going to make an example of all these companies, even those is nothing illegal about saying you agree not to activity recruit a person, you can not say they can not hire the person if they walk in your door on your own which it what looks like google did when they got Steve's nasty call, but steve's call is hearsay.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Discussion
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Steve Jobs threatened 'war' as Google tried to poach Safari engineers for nascent browser team