Did they agree not to poach?


High-tech companies have been vigorous in their attempts to keep employees from departing to competitors as evidenced by the Mark Papermaster lawsuit filed by IBM and Steven Johnson case.  According to some reports, Google and Microsoft entered into an unofficial agreement not to poach each others’ employees.  Essentially, neither company would actively pursue or recruit the company’s talent. 

Here is a redacted email that was included in the TechCrunch report between Google and a prospective Apple candidate:

From: XXXXX XXXXX <XXXXX@google.com>
Subject: Re: Google Opportunities- Follow up email…

Thanks for getting back to me.  I don’t believe that we have been in
contact previously – apologies if I am wrong about this.

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.

Thank you again for returning my email.

Both companies are headquartered in California making the enforcement of a non-compete almost impossible.  Of course, this type of agreement could violate antitrust laws and according to the Washington Post, the Justice Department has launched a probe into the alleged practice.