Jobs e-mail to Schmidt suggests no-poaching deal in play

A newly unearthed e-mail exchange between Apple's Steve Jobs and Google's Eric Schmidt shows Jobs actively telling Google not to try to hire its employees, resulting in the firing of at least one recruiter.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read
Jobs doing a product demo.
Jobs doing a product demo. James Martin/CNET

Steve Jobs once thwarted Google's attempts to recruit one of his company's engineers via an e-mail to Google's Eric Schmidt, resulting in the immediate firing of a Google recruiter, according to a new court filing.

The filing, picked up by Reuters this afternoon, details an e-mail exchange between late Apple co-founder and CEO Jobs and then-Google CEO and Apple board member Schmidt, wherein Jobs politely asks Schmidt to keep Google from attempting to hire one of Apple's engineers.

"I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this," Jobs wrote to Schmidt on March 7, 2007.

According to the exchange detailed in the filing, Schmidt then sent the request on, saying "I believe we have a policy of no recruiting from Apple and this is a direct inbound request. Can you get this stopped and let me know why this is happening? I will need to send a response back to Apple quickly so please let me know as soon as you can."

This resulted in the immediate firing of the recruiter who had attempted to hire the engineer in question, with Google's staffing director writing back "please extend my apologies as appropriate to Steve Jobs," and noting that it was "an isolated incident."

The exchange is the latest piece of evidence offered up in the case against Apple, Adobe Systems, Google, Pixar, Intel and Intuit alleging a no-poaching agreement was made among each company's top executives. That suit, which seeks class action, claims that the companies entered into an unofficial agreement not to hire talent away from one another, while working together to set and control employee compensation.

"Google has always actively and aggressively recruited top talent," a Google spokesperson told CNET in regards to the filing, while declining to comment on the case itself.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the conversation.

Alongside the Jobs e-mail thread, this recent filing includes details of an Apple employee attempting to apply for a position at Pixar and being told that "only problem--we can't poach from Apple," from an employee there. In another e-mail exchange between two vice presidents at Google, the pair talk about ways to "never get into bidding wars" on potential talent with Schmidt and longtime Apple board member Bill Campbell being copied in on it.