Last week, we got our first glimpse at the (heavily redacted) evidence behind a Silicon Valley scandal dating back to 2005 — Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel, Intuit and other tech firms, it was revealed, had agreements not to poach one another's employees. Technically, the Department of Justice settled an antitrust lawsuit in 2010, but employees who claim they were injured by the arrangement are still fighting for more, with a proposed class-action lawsuit that's having its day in court this month.
Today, we obtained an unredacted court document that reveals just how deep the proverbial rabbit hole goes... and how it personally involved Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt and other prominent executives.
Here's what we learned.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini tried to hide and downplay a "global gentleman's agreement" with Google.
"Let me clarify. We have nothing signed. We have a handshake ‘no recruit’ between Eric and myself. I would not like this broadly known," he reportedly wrote.
And yet, Intel actually had a written document describing a non-poach agreement with Pixar, where Intel's policy was to not hire any Pixar employee without the Pixar CEO's express approval.
"If a Pixar employee applies to Intel without being recruited by Intel, contact Pat Gelsinger and explain to him a Pixar employee (provide the candidates name) has applied to Intel without being recruited and he will contact the CEO of Pixar for approval to hire," read the Intel document.
Steve Jobs personally emailed Eric Schmidt to ask Google to stop poaching an Apple engineer, and Google responded by arranging to immediately and publicly fire the employee who initiated the call.
"Mr. Jobs wrote: "I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this." Mr. Schmidt forwarded Mr. Jobs's email to undisclosed recipients, writing: "I believe we have a policy of no recruiting from Apple and this is a direct inbound request. Can you get this stopped and let me know why this is happening? I will need to send a response back to Apple quickly so please let me know as soon as you can."
Mr. Geshuri told Mr. Schmidt that the employee "who contacted this Apple employee should not have and will be terminated within the hour." Mr. Geshuri further wrote: "Please extend my apologies as appropriate to Steve Jobs. This was an isolated incident and we will be very careful to make sure this does not happen again."
Three days later, Shona Brown, Google's Senior Vice President for Business Operations, replied to Mr. Geshuri, writing: "Appropriate response, thank you. Please make a public example of this termination with the group."
Google's director of staffing Arnnon Geshuri revealed the existence of a formal Do Not Call list in an email to Eric Schmidt, such as the ones that the Justice Department claimed in the original 2010 settlement.
"[Intuit chairman of the board Bill Campbell] requested that Intuit be added fully to the Do Not Call list .... please confirm that you are okay to the modification of the policy," wrote Geshuri.
Pixar rejected a prospective employee from Apple even when that employee reached out of his / her own accord.
When an Apple employee approached Pixar for a "Mac Tools Programming position," a Pixar employee reportedly responded: "Only problem - we can’t poach from Apple."
Pixar and Lucasfilm explicitly agreed not to "get into bidding wars" for employees, as did two senior SVPs at Google. The latter two reportedly agreed to do so by restricting recruiting practices, and sent copies of their idea to Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Bill Campbell, on the boards of Intuit and Apple.
Pixar and Lucasfilm not only had an arrangement, but an employee admitted to its regular use.
Pixar general manager Jim Morris said the "gentlemen's agreement" had been "honored pretty well here for the last many years."
According to an email from Intuit chairman (and Apple board member) Bill Campbell to Steve Jobs, Google CEO Eric Schmidt took responsibility for the non-poach agreement.
"I am heading out of town . . . and wanted to give you the latest of what I heard from Google after talking to Eric Schmidt. Eric told me he got directly involved and firmly stopped all efforts to recruit anyone from Apple," he reportedly wrote.
Today, a lawyer for the plaintiffs briefed Bloomberg about the case, and according to that attorney, even more dirty laundry will be aired from here on out, as a decision in the case yesterday requires the defendants to produce even more documents revealing the extent of the "no-poach" arrangement, and whether it was a matter of individual informal agreements or a larger conspiracy. For now, you can find the full unredacted PDF at our source link.