August 20, 2009
Former Palm Chief Executive Ed Colligan, who stepped down in June, was approached by Steve Jobs two years ago to enter a deal in which neither Palm nor Apple would hire each other's employees, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
Colligan met with Jobs in August 2007, about two months after Apple introduced the iPhone and Palm had hired former Apple executive Jon Rubinstein to develop a competing product, according to communications of the meeting obtained by the news agency. Jobs was concerned that Palm was going after Apple employees. Colligan considered Jobs' entreaty to "do whatever we can to stop this," before deciding against making a deal. "Your proposal that we agree that neither company will hire the other's employees, regardless of the individual's desires, is not only wrong, it is likely illegal," Colligan said, according to communications cited by Bloomberg. Specific details on the deal Jobs allegedly proposed were not in the communications, and an Apple spokeswoman declined comment on Thursday. In general, rival companies recruiting employees from each other is a form of competition, and government regulators could consider deals preventing recruitment a violation of antitrust laws. Rubinstein, who succeeded Colligan as chief executive, developed the Palm Pre, which was released this summer as the company's first serious competitor to Apple's highly successful iPhone. The former Apple executive was not the only employee of the Mac maker hired by Palm. Others include senior VP of brand design Jeff Zwerner, senior VP of product development Mike Bell, public relations head Lynn Fox, and board member Fred Anderson The Bloomberg report comes as Apple is under scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission for its relationship with Google. Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google, resigned from Apple's board this month after Jobs noted that competition between the two companies in the smartphone market was increasing. Schmidt had been a member of Apple's board since August 2006. There's no evidence of wrongdoing between the two companies.
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