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Apple Involved in Second No-Employee-Poach Mess

Apple has been attracting significant attention from regulators and the press for some of its actions: alleged product safety issue with iPods and iPhones and its relationship with Google, including having Eric Schmidt on the board, banning Google Voice from the iPhone app store, and engaging in an unofficial policy of not hiring people away from each other. Now Connie Guglielmo at Bloomberg has a story claiming that Palm's ex-CEO Ed Colligan rejected overtures from Steve Jobs to similarly implement a no-poach policy.

Colligan, who stepped down as CEO in June, discussed the matter with Jobs in August 2007, as the mobile-phone war heated up, according to the communications. Apple had introduced the iPhone two months earlier, just as Palm hired a former Apple executive, Jon Rubinstein, to develop new smart phones. Jobs, Apple's CEO, 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.
Supposedly, Colligan call the proposal wrong and "likely illegal," according to "communications" provided to Bloomberg.

As All Things Digital points out, there is significant irony in this as Apple "had hired away some two percent of Palm's workforce as it began developing the iPhone." And then Palm hired some top Apple execs within a couple of years of debuting the Pre.

I've argued that it's time for Jobs to step down. Now I'm going to add another ground: hubris-fueled stupidity. If Bloomberg saw some "communication," then there has to be a letter or email that Jobs and Colligan exchanged. Jobs not only suggested something that any entry-level manager would see as smacking of collusion with a competitor -- generally frowned upon by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission, but he did it in writing. Oh, good lord, how much believe in your own invulnerability must you have to leave a trail that screams investigate me? I'm wondering whether what Jobs needs isn't a surgeon on call so much as a psychiatrist, because this big a blunder screams idiocy or insanity. This should help keep a number of government lawyers busy for a while.

Crosshairs/hunting image via stock.xchng user Topsoft, site standard license.

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