Jobs ‘central figure’ in Silicon Valley hiring case, judge says

Steve Jobs
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Image: Networkworld/IDGNS

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11 August 2014 | 0

Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, has said Jobs “believed that you should not be hiring each others’… technical people.”

“Steve was unhappy,” Schmidt testified, “and Steve’s unhappiness absolutely influenced the change we made in recruiting practice.”

On one occasion, Koh wrote, Google fired a recruiter for trying to hire a worker from Apple. Schmidt wrote to Jobs and apologised, informing him of the termination, and Jobs forwarded the e-mail to Apple’s human resources department, along with just a smiley face.

Proving a point
Other CEOs maintained the no-poaching deal out of “fear of, and deference to, Mr Jobs,” Koh wrote. Former Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen, for example, said he worried that Jobs would “deliberately poach Adobe just to prove a point”.

The evidence that’s been collected related to Google is “equally compelling,” Koh wrote. Schmidt, Jobs and Intuit chairman Bill Campbell were “key players in creating and enforcing the anti-solicitation agreements,” she wrote in her order.

For example, e-mails show that Schmidt “terminated at least two recruiters for violations of anti-solicitation agreements, and threatened to terminate more.”

There is also compelling evidence against Intel, Koh said, and evidence that Adobe was “aware of the impact of its antisolicitation agreements.”

Given the strength of the evidence, Koh apparently thinks the workers’ attorneys should push for a bigger settlement or take the case to trial. One expert hired for the case has estimated the workers’ compensation should be as high as $3 billion, she noted. And that amount could be trebled under antitrust law if the workers won their case.

She has called a case management conference for 10 September, where she’ll meet with the attorneys and decide how to proceed.

James Niccolai, IDG News Service

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