Steve Jobs asked Google to stop poaching Apple workers

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014


As part of a civil suit involving the employment practices of seven major tech firms, a court filing was unveiled on Friday that includes an email which late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs personally sent to former Google chief Eric Schmidt requesting an end to worker poaching.



The March, 2007 email specifically asked Google to put a stop to its active recruitment of an unnamed Apple engineer, and alluded to halting worker poaching in general, reports Reuters.



"I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this," Jobs wrote in his email to Schmidt, who was on Apple's board of directors at the time.



Schmidt took immediate action and forwarded the correspondence to certain undisclosed members of Google's staff, including a staffing director who responded that the employee responsible for the recruitment "will be terminated within the hour."



The unnamed staffing manager also asked that his apologies be conveyed to Jobs.



The suit responsible for bringing the email to light is civil litigation stemming from a Justice Department probe that investigated the anti-poaching practices of Google, Apple, Adobe Systems, Intel, Intuit Inc. and Pixar. In 2009, it was revealed that Apple and Google reportedly created an unofficial agreement to not poach each others workers, resulting in the antitrust investigation.



All six companies involved settled with the Justice Department in 2010, agreeing to a five year moratorium on "no solicitation agreements."





Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt during the iPhone's introduction at MacWorld in 2007







This week's court hearing brings civil suit claims from five software engineers who accuse the companies of colluding to keep employee salaries low by quashing labor competition. The case will continue, however it may be split into separate class action lawsuits.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 45
    negafoxnegafox Posts: 480member
    Definitely not okay if true. If another software company offered me a larger salary and better benefits to join them instead, I would use that to:



    1. Leverage to bump my salary and benefits to stay at my current company;

    2. Leave if I respect the other company and believe I will have a brighter future with them.
  • Reply 2 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Schmidt took immediate action and forwarded the correspondence to certain undisclosed members of Google's staff, including a staffing director who responded that the employee responsible for the recruitment "will be terminated within the hour."



    Wow. Google do listens to Apple.



    Too closely.
  • Reply 3 of 45
    rbryanhrbryanh Posts: 263member
    Apple would have the world believe that the degradation they support in China is far away and nothing to worry about it, but in fact, corporate sociopathy begins at home. This perspective is so common that it's easy to grow numb to just how appalling the underlying assumptions are.



    Consider that the definition "poaching" is theft of livestock, and that it's historical use has often involving livestock belonging to royalty. You can't steal what someone else doesn't own, and the last time I checked, Apple was neither King of any country nor Lord of any manor and ownership of human beings was a violation of the US Constitution.



    Of course multi-national corporations have spent the last half century successfully acquiring more rights than individual American citizens, simply buying new law whenever violating existing strictures becomes too expensive. It's not difficult to imagine that slavery, indentured servitude, "company" towns, and all the rest might be even larger in our future than they are in our past. In an era of declining labor representation, rage, terror, and immediate action would be appropriate responses to this news-that-isn't-really-news for anyone who doesn't care to be a serf.



    The press will cover this is as a minor legal issue, not a major social nightmare, when in fact, Apple and any other company involved in such practices should suffer extraordinarily severe penalties for violating one of the core precepts of the society in which they exist. Nothing any corporation is, does, or makes can ever justify even the hint of treating human beings as property, and Apple would make an excellent example "to encourage the others."
  • Reply 4 of 45
    Several of my former Apple and earlier, NeXT Engineers went to work at Google with huge incentives, to work on the same area of work they did at Apple.



    I won't name names.



    Great people, but let's be clear, a Search Engine company suddenly became an OS Company and a lot of Apple talent shows up and you don't think Steve's going to intervene?
  • Reply 5 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    Several of my former Apple and earlier, NeXT Engineers went to work at Google with huge incentives, to work on the same area of work they did at Apple.



    I won't name names.



    Great people, but let's be clear, a Search Engine company suddenly became an OS Company and a lot of Apple talent shows up and you don't think Steve's going to intervene?



    Apple should have paid more to retain those Apple talent, with all the cash that Apple has.
  • Reply 6 of 45
    drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    ...

    Great people, but let's be clear, a Search Engine company suddenly became an OS Company and a lot of Apple talent shows up and you don't think Steve's going to intervene?



    Such intervention appears to break antitrust legislation, and is obviously against employee interests. Talent has the right to move, if it takes along IP that belongs to the former employer, that should be brought to court, not solved by fixing deals behind curtains and threatening people.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by peter236 View Post


    Apple should have paid more to retain those Apple talent, with all the cash that Apple has.



    Exactly.
  • Reply 7 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by peter236 View Post


    Apple should have paid more to retain those Apple talent, with all the cash that Apple has.



    Nailed it. People don't leave jobs because they're happy.
  • Reply 8 of 45
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    Several of my former Apple and earlier, NeXT Engineers went to work at Google with huge incentives, to work on the same area of work they did at Apple.



    I won't name names.



    Great people, but let's be clear, a Search Engine company suddenly became an OS Company and a lot of Apple talent shows up and you don't think Steve's going to intervene?



    That's business. Jobs took a lot of talent with him when he started NeXT.
  • Reply 9 of 45
    jack99jack99 Posts: 157member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by peter236 View Post


    Apple should have paid more to retain those Apple talent, with all the cash that Apple has.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by redbarchetta View Post


    Nailed it. People don't leave jobs because they're happy.



    It's business as usual. In my line of work, when you've been at your company/firm 8 years or so, you're bound to have recruiters approaching you at cocktail parties with their business cards. If you look're a young buck in his 30s who looks like he has promise and tons of experience under his belt, expect to get a lot of salary bump offers and promises of benefits.





    Poaching is a commonplace practice, especially during better times. Those of us who have baby boomers as parents were taught not to be blindly loyal to one single company, especially as any one of us can be given the pink slip.





    As for the risk of carrying technical know-how and risking importing it into the new company: welcome to reality. Once you've spent years immersed in the culture and practices of the old company, it's hard not to separate and quarantine your old skillsets from the new skillsets. All it takes is your manager to say to you "I hear you were a bigshot at Apple. Wanna help us design the next tablet OS?"
  • Reply 10 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rbryanh View Post


    Apple would have the world believe that the degradation they support in China is far away and nothing to worry about it, but in fact, corporate sociopathy begins at home.



    How do you think all of the Android phones are made?

    What about the servers that host AppleInsider?

    Or the network switches that manage the packets?

    Or the lightbulb you are using to light your room?

    Or the parts that make up the power plant powering your computer?



    They all come from the same conditions/place.
  • Reply 11 of 45
    They should try sharing more of the profits with guys that helped build them rather than stopping other people from hiring them. Didn't Steve himself ask for more apple shares because he thought he deserved them. Bet those apple employees felt great knowing that it was more important to have more money in a bank account not doing anything, rather than use it to keep them at the company.
  • Reply 12 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Patranus View Post


    How do you think all of the Android phones are made?

    What about the servers that host AppleInsider?

    Or the network switches that manage the packets?

    Or the lightbulb you are using to light your room?

    Or the parts that make up the power plant powering your computer?



    They all come from the same conditions/place.



    Do what I do and ignore anyone who chooses to blame one company for all these conditions worldwide.
  • Reply 13 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post


    They should try sharing more of the profits with guys that helped build them rather than stopping other people from hiring them. Didn't Steve himself ask for more apple shares because he thought he deserved them. Bet those apple employees felt great knowing that it was more important to have more money in a bank account not doing anything, rather than use it to keep them at the company.



    if apple used just one of its hundred billions to pay out a one-time employee bonus, then every one of their 60,400 perm employees could have a roughly $16,000.00 payday.
  • Reply 14 of 45
    Did they agree to not recruit from each other, or to not hire someone already employed by the others? There's a huge difference, in my mind at least, between actively headhunting an already employed individual to work for you, and hiring someone for an openly posted position.
  • Reply 15 of 45
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,414member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    Several of my former Apple and earlier, NeXT Engineers went to work at Google with huge incentives, to work on the same area of work they did at Apple.



    I won't name names.



    Great people, but let's be clear, a Search Engine company suddenly became an OS Company and a lot of Apple talent shows up and you don't think Steve's going to intervene?



    He clearly did intervene...he just as clearly shouldn't have.
  • Reply 16 of 45
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by peter236 View Post


    Apple should have paid more to retain those Apple talent, with all the cash that Apple has.



    A good company has an established compensation structure. If it is not competitive, you need to upgrade it. But you cannot blow it up in smoke just because Joe threatens to leave for a higher paying job. If you acquiesce to his demands, what do you say to Larry and Bob?



    There are only so many irreplaceable individuals in any company (some would say 0).
  • Reply 17 of 45
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Doesn't Pizza Hut have practices in place that prevent certain employees working for other pizza places for a period of up to two years?



    What's the difference between that and what we're seeing here?
  • Reply 18 of 45
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by echosonic View Post


    if apple used just one of its hundred billions to pay out a one-time employee bonus, then every one of their 60,400 perm employees could have a roughly $16,000.00 payday.



    But Apple is craftier than that.



    Instead of a cash payout, they will issue stock options for excellent performance. They're called "golden handcuffs" in Silicon Valley for a reason. A typical stock option vesting schedule would call for 15-20% vested one year after the date of the grant, followed by 2% additional vesting each subsequent month. This encourages the best performing employees to stay with the company.



    Does the person who started working at Apple on November 30, 2011 really deserve a $16K windfall?



    That said, it would be better to issue a one-time dividend payment. The shareholders own the company. Most Apple employees are shareholders anyhow (they have a venerable ESPP). Plus, qualified dividends are taxed at a much lower rate than wages.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GTR View Post


    Doesn't Pizza Hut have practices in place that prevent certain employees working for other pizza places for a period of up to two years?



    What's the difference between that and what we're seeing here?



    That's a non-compete clause and is probably only included with the contracts for senior management.



    Due to state labor laws, non-compete clauses are basically unenforceable in the state of California for regular, non-exempt employees as well as low-level manager. Even high-level managers are heavily protected against non-compete clauses.



    Even Mark Papermaster, an IBM executive who took a job at California-based Apple had his non-compete shot down. Basically, the non-compete that Papermaster signed for NY-based IBM in 2006 was declared not enforceable by a federal judge in 2008.



    Non-competes are stupid and frankly go against the spirit of Silicon Valley. This place was built by people who left companies to make something better.
  • Reply 19 of 45
    bwikbwik Posts: 562member
    Par for the course in Apple and MS's disrespect for IT and other industry professionals. To them, the cheapest possible worker is always the answer. Bill Gates is extensively on record saying MSFT needs to import more H1-B workers even though the US has unlimited talent pools in law, medicine and MBA. Why can't Microsoft and Apple recruit staff? Because they don't want to pay American wages to high achieving Americans. Instead, those people go into law, medicine, consulting, banking etc.



    My point is, they could pay the relevant people a wage in the 300k-800k bracket. But they would rather hire a person from India or China at $70,000. I might rather hire a heart surgeon from Thailand at $70k. And make a killing off the proceeds of his surgery. It's all about what you can negotiate, in the end. And if powerful companies write the laws, as they do in China, then the people are nothing but slaves.
  • Reply 20 of 45
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,205member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Negafox View Post


    Definitely not okay if true. If another software company offered me a larger salary and better benefits to join them instead, I would use that to:



    1. Leverage to bump my salary and benefits to stay at my current company;

    2. Leave if I respect the other company and believe I will have a brighter future with them.



    Schmidt and company could have told Steve to kick rocks and what could he do. Stop making Google the default search engine for Apple stuff, ask that Schmidt be kicked off the board. Okay sure, go for it. Sue, nope. Not unless they can prove that what Google was doing was illegal.



    Schmidt and friends are the ones that decided to halt things, to fire the recruiter and to stop talking to Apple staff from the sounds of things. So that's all on them, not Apple.



    I suspect a big part of how this suit will fall out will depend on the nature of the employment contracts and whether they contain valid clauses that would prevent the employee from leaving at the time that they were being actively recruited. If this is the case then the recruitment could be seen as encouraging said parties to violate their contract by leaving, which is not so cool. Another big part of the game will be if what we are talking about is not chasing after active employees or agreeing to turn them away even if they approach the company to change jobs (the latter I totally agree is and should be a no no)
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