updated 09:10 pm EDT, Thu September 16, 2010
DOJ talks to Apple, Google, Intel in poaching deal
Several technology companies are near the end of talks with the Department of Justice to settle and avoid an investigation into claims of anti-competitive hiring deals, insiders said tonight [sub. required]. Apple, Adobe, Google, Intel, Intuit and Pixar are all hoping to avoid an antitrust case and will potentially halt any pacts they have to avoid poaching each other's employees. The WSJ noted that some of the firms are more willing to settle than others, but didn't say which.
Some have said that they haven't put total halts on hiring between each other and only prevented unsolicited attempts. Others, like IBM and Microsoft, have already gone on record as being excluded from the investigation. Unofficially, these are believed to have essential deals with other companies that would need anti-poaching deals, while those left were going beyond safe limits.
Those more resistant to the prospects of a deal have argued that they need the guarantees of employee security to work together on projects. Teamwork between technology companies has been a staple of the San Francisco Bay Area, but until now anti-poaching practices haven't been subject to significant scrutiny by the US government.
The DOJ has countered by claiming that truces between companies hurt employees by preventing them from moving to a better or higher-paying job. The ability to recruit directly is important even if the employee doesn't leave, since a worker can use a job offer as a bargaining chip for higher pay or better working conditions at an existing position.
Reasons for the truces have varied, but the Apple and Google deal is widely known to have stemmed from the early collaboration the two had on services for the iPhone. The appearance of Android has created a rift between the two, but the policy is suspected of having carried on to avoid any further tension.