Apple and Palm and poaching intrigue, oh my

What’s a Silicon Valley day without a taste of Apple? This might leave a bad taste in some mouths, though.

We’d be remiss, once again, if we didn’t at least touch upon the gobs of talk that has piled up after a Bloomberg report that Steve Jobs tried to bully then-Palm CEO Ed Colligan into a deal not to poach each other’s employees. Bloomberg obtained 2007 “communications” between Jobs and Colligan — some speculate they were leaked by Palm — and found that his Steveness made the request after the Sunnyvale company of Palm Pilot fame had hired its now-CEO, Jon Rubinstein, away from the Cupertino company of iPod fame. Today’s news comes against the backdrop of a Justice Department investigation into possible antitrust violations related to no-poach agreements among Bay Area companies such as Apple, Google, Yahoo and Genentech and others.

After Colligan refused Jobs’ demand, “Jobs said Apple had patents and more money than Palm if the companies ended up in a legal fight, according to the communications,” the Bloomberg report says. Why, this threat seems perfectly typical of Jobs’ behavior, as examined in a recent profile. (See On Steve Jobs and secrecy, the redux.)

Of course, Palm, with its Pre, is in a fight for its life against Apple and its iPhone. Should the Justice Department decide to take action after the report about How Palm Faced Down a Tyrannical Control Freak, a legal battle would probably follow over the Pre’s multi-touch technology, and/or its ability/inability to sync with iTunes.


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  • Dan

    People keep getting up in arms about Microsoft being this big bad company, and praise Apple… But for what reasons? Apple / Jobs is the perfect example on how a company can stifle competition, by leveraging possibly illegal agreements with others.

    I figure Apple and Palm both infringe on any number of patents from eachother or other companies, but apple has a way to get away with anything. Look at how they bundle Safari with their OS, MS does this and people freak.. Apple does it and its innovative? Apple bundels PDF readers inside of OSx, no body says anything. If MS did this once again they would get sued…

    Though the DOJ would just slap apples hand, someone needs to do something… If Apple wants to play ball in the real world they need to follow the rules other companies do. There is one thing to not poach employees, but not hire employees because they worked at another company is bad.

    Not to mention didnt Apple hire some Palm employees before this even happened?