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Emails Reveal Battle Over Employee Poaching Between Google and Facebook 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-scratch-my-back dept.
colinneagle (2544914) writes "Apple, Google, and a slew of other high-tech firms are currently embroiled in a class-action lawsuit on allegations that they all adhered to tacit anti-poaching agreements. With that case currently ongoing, we've seen a number of interesting executive emails come to light, including emails showing that Steve Jobs threatened Palm's CEO with a full-fledged legal assault if the company kept going after Apple engineers. There is also correspondence between Sergey Brin, Marissa Mayer, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, and Google's Jonathan Rosenberg discussing the threat that Google saw in Facebook hiring its engineers. The discussion elevates, with Sandberg pointing out the hypocrisy of Google growing to prominence by hiring engineers from major Silicon Valley firms. Rosenberg then hints at the potential for a 'deeper relationship' that Google would be willing to reach as long as Facebook stops hiring its engineers, going so far as to tell Sandberg to 'fix this problem.'"
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Emails Reveal Battle Over Employee Poaching Between Google and Facebook

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31, 2014 @01:17PM (#46622929)

    "Finally, we (or basically I) have not done a good enough job of high rewards for high performance." - Sergey Brin

  • Adam Smith (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31, 2014 @01:55PM (#46623361)

    Adam Smith wrote eloquently about this vary topic in 1776! He wrote "Masters, too, sometimes enter into particular combinations to sink the wages of labour even below this [natural] rate". Smith means the natural rate as determined by market supply and demand. Apparently this is precisely what occurred. Those who feel compelled to pen remarks would be well advised to read Adam Smith instead.

  • by bobbied (2522392) on Monday March 31, 2014 @02:00PM (#46623427)

    This is why it's always ultimately best to work in government. The pay isn't high, but the work environment is ideal.

    Huh? My first job as a college graduate engineer was with the DOD as a civilian. The pay is OK, but not great as you suggest. But I can tell you that the work environment is NOT ideal, even in the best of circumstances. I had great people to work for and with. They where among the best I've had in my 25-30 years so far. But, it is maddeningly frustrating to work for the government, if you care even a small amount about doing the job efficiently the right way. Maybe I'm just too frugal, but I found the wholesale waste that happened due to all the rules and laws to be frustrating to watch. Things such as spending $250K to get a $750K worth of equipment purchased, or throwing away 90% of a certain kind of part because they where so poor in quality that we had to test and select parts that met specs to repair equipment. Then we'd end up having to re-repair things because these junk parts drifted out of tolerance quickly.

    If you have the right mindset, I suppose government work is fine. But if you try to care, or actually do the right thing by your customers in the most efficient way possible, it's an exercise in frustration.

  • by Cyberax (705495) on Monday March 31, 2014 @02:20PM (#46623665)
    A few years ago I read a financial magazine on an airplane (quick googling tells that it was WSJ, I can't find a direct link but this blog post describes it: http://blog.rongarret.info/201... [rongarret.info] ) about how companies should watch their stock options closely and do not allow 'unnecessary' employees like chefs to get them. Because if a company grows big then these peons might actually become members of the Rich! And little people totally do not deserve it.

    I wanted to break a window and throw this magazine out.
  • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Monday March 31, 2014 @03:08PM (#46624071) Homepage

    Hey Kasper,

    It's Mike H, remember me? We used to work together in SRE ;) How is the startup going? I have also recently moved on from the big G.

    Now. When this thing first started to bubble up, I didn't feel very concerned either. OK, so I got fewer emails from recruiters than otherwise would. No big deal, not like there was exactly a shortage of those.

    However, I just want to point out one thing:

    I would only consider there to be a real problem, if facebook would reject resumes submitted by candidates, just because they happened to work for Google. I have seen no evidence of such a practice existing.

    Did you read the article? It seems that the only reason such a situation did not occur is because Sandberg told Google to pound sand. During the time in question, these emails clearly show that a very senior Google executive was directly asking Facebook not to hire Google employees, even if they employees in question wanted to go work there and what's more, good corporate relations were being pegged to that demand.

    I must admit, I never knew much about Rosenberg and don't have many memories of him (can't even recall what he looks like). But regardless, this paints Google in a very negative light indeed. Rosenberg was willing to threaten other companies in order to make them stop not just pursuing but actually hiring "his" people. Facebook refused, but who knows what other companies didn't? Was that really the only time he took that approach? Was this a Rosenberg-specific moment of madness/idiocy or does it run deeper? I await further discovery with great interest. Even if this was a brief failure on the behalf of just one executive, that's still completely unacceptable and Rosenberg needs to be fired, now. Employees are not assets whose freedom of employment can be traded for corporate deals and to treat them that way is completely unacceptable.

  • by synx (29979) on Monday March 31, 2014 @04:14PM (#46624823)

    I encourage anyone with skin in the game to read the court documents, they are easy to read and really lay out the case for how anti-recruitment agreements (whereby Google agreed not to directly recruit from Apple and vice versa) directly affect overall pay scale. It is laid out clearly, concretely, and isn't just a wishful case. There are a few solid narratives which I think will put google under severe pressure at trial (eg: giving EVERY employee a 10% raise because of Facebook's aggressive recruiting).

    First off, it's a FACT that Google's (and other companies) agreements are illegal. That isn't even what this case is about - the DOJ came to a settlement and Google is no longer allowed to make such agreements. This case is about wage impact and class impact. Now that the class action was certified by a judge, there is good chance that in a trial a connection between the illegal activities the companies in question were conducting and class-impact and wages were affected.

    Since you used to work at Google, presumably you're a smart person, I hope you can see how your own personal feelings about how recruiters from other companies should or should not behave have little bearing on the actual illegal activities that Google was undertaking.

    Now, as a Google employee, you certainly know about the pay bands, right? That your pay is not at the sole discretion of your hiring manager or your manager, but set in a company wide policy that employees of job title X get paid between $A - $B with GSU/RSU/option grants in a specific range as well. There are pay bands for every single title in the company (except maybe executives). Google (and Intel, and many companies) make it a high priority to keep internal equity between employees at given titles (eg: SRE II), so if too many employees were being recruited away and retained they would have to adjust pay, either by giving promotions or adjusting pay bands.

    As we know, Google had to elect to do the latter. In response to Facebook recruiting, Google gave across the board 10% raises, and specific raises to SRE titles as well. This is all laid out in court discovery, and is a fact, even Google's lawyers dont deny that.

    The class filing has a lot of discovery, a strong narrative, and statistical modeling to demonstrate there was "class wide impact" (aka YOU were affected by your coworkers inability to discover their true worth via getting unsolicited job offers).

    Now, finally, you said "some people have argued... shouldn't even be actively be contacting candidates." The question is ... why is this justified? Where's the legal basis for such a strict restriction? Also how does it affect overall market dynamics? Maybe if there was an country-wide law for this, but what purpose would it serve? In a market based economy wages are set by companies bidding for employees. Since a lot of people in this field have jobs nearly all the time, the only way to find out they are unpaid is to be offered a job with a higher pay. There are only 2 ways for this to happen, one is for the employee to seek, the other is for companies to reach out. Why restrict companies?

    I think a lot of your arguments are around the notion of definitions of "aggressive", polite or decorum. Legally speaking there isnt any distinction here, and I am not sure the common good is benefited by restricting the function of the market of jobs and employees.

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