Apple, Google, and Others in Negotiations With Regulators Over Anti-Poaching Agreements

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. Department of Justice is in "advanced" talks with Apple, Google, and several other large tech companies looking to reach a settlement over an investigation of anti-poaching agreements made with each other.
Several of the U.S.'s largest technology companies are in advanced talks with the Justice Department to avoid a court battle over whether they colluded to hold down wages by agreeing not to poach each other's employees.

The companies, which include Google Inc., Apple Inc., Intel Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., Intuit Inc. and Walt Disney Co. unit Pixar Animation, are in the final stages of negotiations with the government, according to people familiar with the matter.
The report notes that some of the companies are expressing more willingness than others to settle with the government over antitrust issues, but that all parties are hoping to avoid a court battle over the issue.

As the Justice Department was beginning its investigation last year, it was reported that Apple and Google had had an informal agreement not to cold-call each others' employees in efforts to lure them away, but that employee-initiated job moves between the companies were permitted. Apple CEO Steve Jobs had reportedly offered a similar proposal to Palm, which then-CEO Ed Colligan rejected.

The companies involved have argued that the no-poaching agreements are key for fostering innovation, as they allow the companies to collaborate on projects while offering some measure of reassurance that their partners won't seek to hire away their key employees. The Department of Justice argues, however, that even the banning of the cold-calling practice seen in the least restrictive of the deals between companies has an adverse effect on employee wages and job mobility, as such head-hunting is a primary method of hiring in the tech industry.

Article Link: Apple, Google, and Others in Negotiations With Regulators Over Anti-Poaching Agreements
 

Voytech

macrumors member
Jul 6, 2010
62
71
Their companies... they're free to do what they want as far as HR goes. Not seeing the issue there.
 

Sayer

macrumors 6502a
Jan 4, 2002
981
0
Austin, TX
It's none of the government's business how Apple and Google decide to deal with seeking out new talent.

No one was stopped from jumping ship, they just agreed not to proactively go and look for top talent in each other's company.

And if anyone has worked in the tech industry (heck any large corporation) you know that looking for a better job is always on your mind after a certain length of time where you are.

Geeze, STAY OUT OF BUSINESS Government!
 

roland.g

macrumors 604
Apr 11, 2005
6,552
1,468
With the frequency of these sort of rumors, and seeing as MR doesn't want to Page 2 this sort of news, perhaps the tabs should read Mac Rumors, Page 2, iOS (or iPhone), and insert a tab before Buyer's Guide called Legal or Industry or something like that for all the Google related, SEC, lawsuit related with a mini headline section just like for Page 2, iPhone and MacBytes in the left hand column. While interesting this is not necessarily Mac Rumors related to any sort of Apple Products, of which Page 1 has been consistently getting more and more diluted of.

IMHO.


Their companies... they're free to do what they want as far as HR goes. Not seeing the issue there.
Not to harp on this but how can you use this correctly and incorrectly all in the same one line post?
 

andiwm2003

macrumors 601
Mar 29, 2004
4,333
384
Boston, MA
this is in no way different from Intel making deals that prevent manufactureres from buyig AMD chips. This is illegal by antitrust laws and immoral because it's used to hinder individuals carreers.

The jobmarket is supposed to be a free market and not one where HR departments or managers interfere with individuals job chances.

I hope they fine the hell out of them.

To all who say there is no issue: consider the case where let's say a GE (or Pfizer or Siemens or BMW) manager starts a small project with a small company. This small companies employees will then not get offers from a world wide corporation with hundreds of subsidiaries. And we all know that employee initiated job applications have often a close to zero percent chance of success in R&D. So the outcome is: no job for you.
 

oldimac

macrumors regular
Jan 18, 2008
152
0
Boy you need to wake up andiwm - there are all kinds of safeguards, the biggest being anti-competition clauses in contracts. Any employee of this caliber would be required to sign one.

The government should stay out of this. How much time, effort and money (which the government doesn't have) has been spent on this issue.

How about spending some of that money on "egg" inspectors.

Another thing I don't understand is the ire over Apple not accepting Flash. What's the deal. Apple is not allowed to allow what it wants on their products. Apple has been one of the strongest leaders in the tech field. They all complained about Apple doing away with the "floppy drive" in its computers too but now how many have them? Floppies for the most part are a thing of the past.
 

handygeek

macrumors member
Sep 14, 2007
50
0
Personally, I see non-compete agreements as far more limiting than these non-binding understandings between companies. It's not like they are holding back individuals - they are just not actively seeking to steal key personnel. If a key employee wants to reach out to the competition, they are free to do so. However, the non-compete agreement is a pretty good deterrent. The new employer would have to really want you in order to pay for any litigation or settlement.
 

gwangung

macrumors 65816
Apr 9, 2003
1,106
19
Thus, people focus on the rights of the corporation, less on the impact on individuals.
 

jayducharme

macrumors 68040
Jun 22, 2006
3,376
2,922
The thick of it
I can see why the Palm CEO didn't accept Jobs' offer; he hired two key Apple personnel to develop the Pre. It's curious that the investigation names five tech companies -- and then Walt Disney and Pixar (which have obvious connections to Jobs). I wonder if anti-poaching is common in other industries.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
I can see why the Palm CEO didn't accept Jobs' offer; he hired two key Apple personnel to develop the Pre. It's curious that the investigation names five tech companies -- and then Walt Disney and Pixar (which have obvious connections to Jobs). I wonder if anti-poaching is common in other industries.
sometimes some time not. It gets easier to detect in the larger one and you look at movement between the companies and see if it follows a norm. If it is below the norm from other industries it should raise a lot of red flags.

Anti poaching agreements only helps the CEO and upper management. The workers get screwed.
 

newtonrj

macrumors member
Jun 22, 2009
36
0
The jobmarket is supposed to be a free market and not one where HR departments or managers interfere with individuals job chances.

I hope they fine the hell out of them.

To all who say there is no issue: consider the case where let's say a GE (or Pfizer or Siemens or BMW) manager starts a small project with a small company. This small companies employees will then not get offers from a world wide corporation with hundreds of subsidiaries. And we all know that employee initiated job applications have often a close to zero percent chance of success in R&D. So the outcome is: no job for you.
andiwm2003 - I agree with oldimac on this one. Free market does exist. Safegaurds within any employment contract exist. As do NDAs that every tech company signs before they open their kumono.

If employees want to jump, there are want-ads, head hunters, and plenty of Monster ways to snagajob and get simplyhired
 

oldwatery

macrumors 6502a
Sep 16, 2003
742
303
Maui
Damn government sticking it's big nose where it shouldn't be.
This is a free market system and these companies should be able to make deals like these if they want.
We have real problems in this country so why are they wasting OUR money on crap like this?
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
andiwm2003 - I agree with oldimac on this one. Free market does exist. Safegaurds within any employment contract exist. As do NDAs that every tech company signs before they open their kumono.

If employees want to jump, there are want-ads, head hunters, and plenty of Monster ways to snagajob and get simplyhired
you do know less than 40% of jobs are even posted on those sites. Most of them are filled by head hunters or by them contacting someone they think is a good fit. The jobs often never even make it to be posted.

The HR agreeing not to poach or contact someone for a job really hurts the free market in this case and forces the wagest down.
 

CFreymarc

Suspended
Sep 4, 2009
3,969
1,137
Their companies... they're free to do what they want as far as HR goes. Not seeing the issue there.
In California, non-competition agreements are illegal. What I see here are a group of companies that is a part of what many called the "six colored circle" that is trying to avoid the Fed coming down on them for an anti-competitive practice agreement to keep down the salary base.

When NetScape was all the rage in the 90's, there was the "Apple to Netscape bus" joke that had hundreds of Apple employee move to Netscape. Wouldn't be surprised that and a few other big deals prompted this move.

It is estimated there is a group of about ten thousand technical and marketing professionals in Silicon Valley willing to take a W-2 job and keep their mortgage payments continuing that this will effect. Honestly, these "safe runners" get what they deserve.

IMO, the best in the business are independent contractors that have multiple sources of income and a short list of execs they regularly are in contact with when a new round of funding starts up. Once the first prototype is up and running the "cubical bitches" take it from there and integrate it into their collective.

Then the cowboy moves on to find another ranch.
 

kdarling

macrumors P6
I can see why the Palm CEO didn't accept Jobs' offer; he hired two key Apple personnel to develop the Pre.
What's good for the goose...

Steve Jobs also took Apple's top engineers when he left for NeXT. Apple sued, but it caused so much (good) publicity for NeXT that Apple had to drop the case.

Personally, I'm all for letting companies call up and try to lure away employees. Keeps the companies treating them better. It's also a lot harder for employees to cold approach other companies if there's an HR agreement in place.
 

FrankieTDouglas

macrumors 65816
Mar 10, 2005
1,490
2,007
Not to harp on this but how can you use this correctly and incorrectly all in the same one line post?
Emm... what are you talking about? Did you really just try to point out incorrect grammar by someone who was correct in their usage? That's funny.
 

JAT

macrumors 603
Dec 31, 2001
6,473
122
Mpls, MN
you do know less than 40% of jobs are even posted on those sites. Most of them are filled by head hunters or by them contacting someone they think is a good fit. The jobs often never even make it to be posted.

The HR agreeing not to poach or contact someone for a job really hurts the free market in this case and forces the wagest down.
They are ensuring that there actually is a FREE market, instead of one where salaries are artificially lowered. Get it?
I think you mean "salaries are artificially not raised." Or "not skyrocketed for no decent reason".
 

JAT

macrumors 603
Dec 31, 2001
6,473
122
Mpls, MN
Their companies... they're free to do what they want as far as HR goes. Not seeing the issue there.
Emm... what are you talking about? Did you really just try to point out incorrect grammar by someone who was correct in their usage? That's funny.
Seems correct to me.. But what do I know.. ESL student here ;)
They are companies...etc.

They're, not their. I can't make the grammar work in my head for "their" at the beginning of that sentence, as there is no hint of an appropriate antecedent. (because the original post is about "companies", not individuals) Too vague.

(I can only assume this is what roland was thinking)
 

diazj3

macrumors 6502a
Jan 19, 2008
879
135
This kind of agreements between large corporations usually go way deeper and wider than simple "no poaching" agreements among the biggest players, and they are designed to privilege corporate interests at the expense of individual rights and free competition. This is just the tip of the iceberg.... and more than keeping wages down - this affects the lower level employees and specialists, and not management - they are intended to limit/avoid competition and keep talent (and innovation) inside a closed system... "key for fostering innovation"? my foot!

I guess one must be a sucker for such big corporations to be against any investigation or regulation. The lack of it has proven to bring worse results in the mid-long term to any industry... large corporations are seldom an example in free market competition. Case in point? the same corporations under investigation! :eek:

cheers!
 

fredfnord

macrumors regular
Sep 9, 2007
127
16
An insider's opinion

I worked at a certain high-tech company in the late 90s.

After two years there, I stopped answering my phone. I would, literally daily, get calls from recruiters for other tech firms who wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. I even tried things like saying 'I'm not interested, please don't call back' and hanging up, and, in an hour or a day or a week, I'd get a call back from the same person.

Usually this happened after we had a meeting with, attended a trade show with, sponsored an event with, or in some other way collaborated with another company. What amazes me is it clearly wasn't, 'ooh, this guy is good, we should hire him', it was 'call every single name we heard about at <company> and get them in for an interview, we'll sort out the good ones'.

I agree that if the agreements between companies went any deeper than 'no cold-calling' they should be investigated and potentially prosecuted. But random cold calls from random companies at Apple, at the peak of such things, probably wasted ten minutes of literally hundreds of peoples' time every single day. If this is a competitor, then that's a small competitive advantage right there: if you distract every one of a company's programmers once a week, in the middle of prime working hours, for ten minues, during a major product push, you've probably introduced a few dozen bugs.

Bah. People complaining about 'depressed tech sector wages' need to go take a long look in the mirror anyway. I worked much harder in retail, in food service, and as a mover than I ever have in the tech sector, and I make three times the money in the tech sector as I did in any of those other places. If you want to worry about depressed wages, start with the people working full time who are below the poverty line.

-fred
 

m3coolpix

macrumors 6502a
Dec 24, 2007
702
0
Kind of makes me think the Justice Department is wambulance chasing......kind of like the Senate going after the stick and ball players for using HGH.....