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Apple's Steve Jobs pushed a 'no-hire' pact with tech rivals

January 23, 2013|By Salvador Rodriguez
  • Emails recently made public between Steve Jobs and other tech executives appear to show Apple was one of several companies that had a "no-hire" policy.
Emails recently made public between Steve Jobs and other tech executives… (KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty…)

Emails to and from the late Steve Jobs may show that several tech companies, including Apple, adopted a "no-hire" policy in which they agreed not to recruit one another's top talent.

The emails were made public Tuesday by a federal judge presiding over a lawsuit filed by tech workers against several Silicon Valley tech companies, including Apple, Google and Intel.

In the emails, Jobs, the former Apple Inc. chief executive, appears to be speaking about and enforcing handshake agreements between him and other executives in the industry under which tech companies would refrain from trying to hire away competitors' employees.

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The tech workers behind the lawsuit say the alleged practice was illegal and drove down wages, according to Reuters.

The documents were made public Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh.

In one of the emails, Jobs ask former Palm CEO Edward Colligan to accept a no-hire agreement between the two companies.

"I'm sure you realize the asymmetry in the financial resources of our respective companies," Jobs says in the email.

Colligan, in a statement, said Jobs also called him and said "if Palm did not agree to such an agreement, Palm could face lawsuits alleging infringement of Apple’s many patents," according to Reuters.

Jobs also sent an email to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt accusing the search giant of trying to poach Apple employees and asking Schmidt to put a stop to it. Schmidt responded: "I'm sorry to hear this; we have a policy of no recruiting of Apple employees. I will investigate immediately! Eric."

In another email that seems to be related to "no-hire" policies, Schmidt told another Google employee to communicate orally rather than in writing because "I don't want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later."

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on the allegations but said, "we have always actively and aggressively recruited top talent."

Apple could not be reached for comment. 

Several of the documents, including alleged "do not call" lists for several companies, have been posted by the Verge.

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