Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were encouraged by Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) CEO Paul Otellini and well-known Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr to directly recruit Facebook employees. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) did not participate in a pact with a group of major tech titans in an alleged illegal agreement not to hire the workers.
The now unsealed court documents posted Friday “dramatize how Facebook disrupted a chummy network among tech giants,” the Wall Street Journal is reporting.
$324 million settlement between Google, Intel and Facebook
The documents were posted by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who is questioning the fairness of a $324 million settlement between the tech giants accused of colluding not to hire each others employees and affected employees, who initially sought $3 billion. Some of the employees are disputing the settlement.
Emails document the apparent collusion. “Paul/John asked who was reaching out to the target Facebookers,” Prasad Setty, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s vice president of compensation, wrote to several Google executives on April 19, 2010. “They suggested that we have Larry/Sergey and Eng execs reach out rather than the Staffing leads.”
Internally the moves to cooperate with other tech giants to limit the options of tech executives raised eyebrows. “I don’t agree that we should be asking Larry and Sergey to reach out to Facebookers,” replied Shannon Deegan, a Google security operations director. “That will quickly be leaked and I believe won’t look great.”
Googl’s Eric Schmidt angered by the leaks
Deegan had right to be concerned about public appearances, as previous leaks about Google’s maneuvers regarding Facebook had surfaced in November of 2007. Then a Google engineering manager alerted his bosses that employees were emailing about Google “providing counter-offers within an hour to Googlers who give notice about getting a Facebook offer.” The leak angered Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt who shot back in an email, “Since I announced our 1 hour policy exactly 24 hours ago we should be embarrassed and disgusted by this leak.”
The unsealed court documents show Google human resource staff confronting Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) recruiters about poaching Google employees. “Even though it was an open event, we approached the recruiters at the time and … gave them a warning to (sic) we would be watching them,” Google staffing director Arnnon Geshuri wrote in a March 2008 email.
Emails demonstrated Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) executives concern as Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) aggressively courted their employees as early as 2007, but there is no evidence in the court files that Page or Brin personally recruited Facebook employees.