Feds to probe tech hiring practices; Good luck with that one

Feds to probe tech hiring practices; Good luck with that one

Summary: The Justice Department is reportedly investigating whether tech titans such as Yahoo, Apple and Google are in cahoots on recruiting and hiring practices. If true, these companies could be in violation of antitrust laws.


The Justice Department is reportedly investigating whether tech titans such as Yahoo, Apple and Google are in cahoots on recruiting and hiring practices. If true, these companies could be in violation of antitrust laws. Good luck finding the paper trail on that one. 

In fact, this DOJ fishing expedition has "waste of time" written all over it. The Washington Post reports (VentureBeat notes The Deal broke the story first):

The review, which is said to be in its preliminary stages, is focused on the search engine giant Google; its competitor Yahoo; Apple, maker of the popular iPhone; and the biotech firm Genentech, among others, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

A few thoughts:

  • This industry-wide probe is likely to go well beyond tech. In most industries the companies involved know each other well. And typically it's good sportsmanship if you leave and refrain from poaching entire teams of talent (at least right away). Is the DOJ probing sportsmanship and business conduct or antitrust violations? If companies agree not to hire top talent away (unless approached of course) that could be viewed as proper conduct. 
  • How does the DOJ hope to prove industry-wide collusion? Do you think there's really a treasure trove of memos from the likes of Steve Jobs, Steve Ballmer, Carol Bartz and Eric Schmidt on the matter? Of course, Schmidt and Jobs aren't trying to hire from each other. They're friends. 
  • Top talent isn't that restricted. Google execs go to Facebook. They go to AOL. Yahoo execs go to Microsoft. Microsoft execs go to Google. In fact, you can make quite a career just hopping between those aforementioned companies. 

All of that said I'll be very interested to see what the Justice Department finds. Will it have reams of quantitative data proving hiring collusion? Or will it merely have a bunch of anecdotes by disgruntled middle managers that wish they could be poached?

Witch Hunt image via Death by 1000 Paper Cuts

Topics: CXO, Enterprise Software, Google, Security, IT Employment

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  • This is the same justice department

    That just ordered charges dropped against the New Black Panthers for
    voter intimidation despite police reports and video showing them
    wandering in uniforms and carrying clubs.

    This administration just nationalized another auto industry.

    If you think this investigation is about antitrust, you are naive.
    • Fox Noise Strikes Again

      There were no "charges," in the criminal sense, against this organization and its three members. The action was a civil complaint. Even the unfair and unbalanced mavens of Fox Noise allowed the government's position to be explained:
      A spokesman for the Department of Justice told FOX News, "The Justice Department was successful in obtaining an injunction that prohibits the defendant who brandished a weapon outside a Philadelphia polling place from doing so again. Claims were dismissed against the other defendants based on a careful assessment of the facts and the law. The department is committed to the vigorous prosecution of those who intimidate, threaten or coerce anyone exercising his or her sacred right to vote."
      So, the feds brought a [b]civil[/b] action against the guy with the baton. An injunction (which is the objective of such a civil action) was obtained. The New Black Panther Party (not an organization that I favor, but one which is entitled to "fair and balanced" treatment) denounced the carrying of a baton and suspended the member who had done so, according to a statement they issued in January 2009.
      What an action against the New Black Panthers has to do with a preliminary investigation into technical hiring practices is certainly not clear to me, except that both were undertaken by the Department of Justice. My analysis is that some folks are so paranoid about the current administration that they will interpret anything and everything as a conspiracy.
  • I don't see antitrust issues here

    If the DOJ would try to enforce H1-B or L1 regulations, I would aplaud, but this is much to do about nothing.
    Linux Geek
  • IT problems? Don't forget the 800lb Gorilla.

    How many people are hired as apposed to how many desktops there are? I understand that Microsoft is still technically under the DOJ umbrella. In this case it's more like a shield.
    They've been playing fast and loose with the netbook manufactures. It couldn't be more obvious than if they changed their name to MonopolySoft.
    • Why

      They were barely mentioned? Trolling are we?
      • He's a known troll on here

        Just ignore him and he will go away.
        Loverock Davidson
  • RE: Feds to probe tech hiring practices; Good luck with that one

    Something about this smells. I notice that these are California
    companies, a state which, I'm told, has laws that tend to favor
    employees regarding non-compete clauses.
  • RE: Feds to probe tech hiring practices; Good luck with that one

    When I first glanced at the picture I thought those fingers pointing at the woman were middle fingers, I had to take a second look. It would have been a lot cooler if that was in fact the image.
    Loverock Davidson
    • If I were only that skilled

      with my low rent art production skills ;)
      Larry Dignan
  • I suspect...

    ...the common thought is that if Microsoft isn't somehow involved, it can't be illegal. Therefore where there's smoke there's Microsoft; and if Microsoft is nowhere in sight, ignore the smoke - there's nothing wrong.

    Carl Rapson
  • It is called Oversight People

    It is always interesting to see the natural Libertarian affinity of folks in IT. The DOJ actually doing its' job after eight years of sleeping at the switch is automatically a "witch hunt." Extra bonus points for dragging in the right-wing WaPo editorial page into the discussion. Extra, extra bonus points for the commenter who dragged in the wing-nut talking point about the "New Black Panthers"

    IT is interstate commerce, IT employs hundreds of thousands, IT is dominated by huge multinational corporations, it is a legitimate target for the DOJ. There are areas of concern especially the possibility for collusion and anti-competitive behavior.

    The DOJ is doing what it is supposed to be doing, oversight, also know as keeping honest people honest.
  • I smell Microsoft money in this one

    Notice how it's all companies Microsoft is going after? I think Microsoft must have bought some new congress members in the latest election.
    • No, but they may have rented them for a while.

      Actually, I'd like to see The Best Government Money Can Buy answer
      two simple questions:
      1. Why is it so much easier for an American with 30 years of IT
      experience to find work in the Third World than it is in the US?
      2. Why is it that my friends and former colleagues who are
      miraculously still employed (not with startups) haven't seen an
      American r?sum? in ages, even in companies where it's widely known
      (through local group meetings, for instance) that many qualified (and
      over-qualified) local people applied for?

      Every country I've been in, [i]except[/i] the US, makes a visible, usually
      effective, effort to give preference to their own citizens and PRs when
      a down economy excuses job cuts. The US has always liked to think of
      itself as an exceptional country; I wish we were less exceptional here.
      Jeff Dickey