Iconic Apple CEO Steve Jobs may woo Apple customers and fans, but a suggestion he made to executives at rival Palm to stop recruiting each others' employees has people angry.
In a conversation in August 2007, Jobs asked former Palm executive Ed Colligan, who stepped down from Palm in June, to stop dangling the carrot in front of Apple employees, according to Bloomberg News.
"Your proposal that we agree that neither company will hire the other's employees, regardless of the individual's desires, is not only wrong, it is likely illegal," Colligan reportedly said to Jobs.
The conversation purportedly came after Palm hired former Apple executive Jon Rubenstein after years of employment at Apple.
Jobs told Colligan he was concerned that Rubinstein was recruiting Apple employees. "We must do whatever we can to stop this," Jobs said in the communications, according to Bloomberg.
Threat to Business
Rubenstein is being credited with the strategy behind the popular smartphone, the Palm Pre.
The Palm Pre was touted as the smartphone that would compete head-to-head with Apple's iPhone. So far, since its June 6 launch the Pre has not lived up to its sales expectations. Analysts who initially predicted the Pre would be a huge hit in the market now say Palm will sell only between 300,000 and 500,000 Pres in its first three months.
"There is no doubt that Apple views Palm as an important competitor in the phone space mostly for one reason: because of who is leading Palm's effort these days, ex-Apple alum Jon Rubenstein, who was responsible for the vision behind the original iPhone," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Interpret. "We have a number of companies right now that are competing heavily with each other, and you are going to see attempts by all parties to go for the best talent."
When asked about the conversation between Jobs and Colligan, Derek Mains, Palm's director of corporate communications, declined comment.
A Smoking Gun
It is not the first time Jobs has attempted to stop the poaching of Apple engineers, according to recent reports that say Jobs succeeded in making a deal with Google executives, and now federal investigators are reportedly looking into the matter.
The deal between Jobs and Google's Eric Schmidt was spelled out in an incriminating e-mail leaked to TechCrunch from a Google recruiter, which read: "From your reference to the [APPLE DIVISION], I take it that you are currently working there. If this is the case, we will not be able to proceed with your application. Google has an agreement with Apple that we will not cold call their staff. If you are not currently working at Apple and are interested in learning more about [A GOOGLE DIVISION] please let me know and I would be happy to chat with you."
Interpret's Gartenberg said it is likely that the story of Apple's rotten dealings with Google and Palm is not yet over.