updated 11:04 am EDT, Mon March 24, 2014
Messages describe 'irate' calls from Steve Jobs
A newly-published set of emails explicitly detail the anti-poaching agreements reached between Apple, Google, and a collection of other high-tech firms. The companies settled a US Department of Justice investigation on the matter in 2010, but are still dealing with class action litigation. One of the instigators of the anti-poaching deals appears to have been former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who made "irate" calls to Google co-founder Sergey Brin in February 2005, complaining that Google was trying to hire away members of the Safari development team. Brin mentions "veiled threats" from Jobs; after a second call, he adds that "Basically, he [Jobs] said 'if you hire a single one of these people that means war'."
Continuing, Brin says that "In any case, lets [sic] not make any new offers or contact new people at Apple until we have had a chance to discuss." By February 26th the two companies had reached a pact, as evidenced by an Apple memo asking its recruiters not to hire people away from Google, and to keep an eye out in case Google tried any poaching of its own. "Please also be sure to honor our side of the deal," the message ends.
Throughout the rest of 2005 the collusion appears to have expanded to many other companies, including Microsoft, Oracle, Comcast, IBM, Intel, and others. A particularly damning email from Google co-founder Eric Schmidt admits that he doesn't want to "create a paper trail over which we can be sued later."
Anti-poaching agreements can be problematic, as they tend to keep salaries artificially low. They can also hinder people from switching jobs for reasons such as career advancement, relocation, or relationships.