TIME

Judge in Collusion Case: Silicon Valley Was Afraid of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs Introduces iCloud Storage System At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc., unveils the iCloud storage system at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2011 in San Francisco on Monday, June 6, 2011. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Jobs was the central figure in tech companies' collusion over hiring policies, a district court judge said Friday

Silicon Valley feared late Apple CEO Steve Jobs before his death in 2011, a judge in a collusion lawsuit brought against Apple and three other top tech companies said Friday.

The suit was brought on behalf of 64,000 tech workers against Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe for allegedly agreeing not to poach each other’s employees, a precedent that some say was set after Jobs reached a no-poaching deal for Pixar.

That deal became the model for all the tech companies, said Judge Lucy Koh. Silicon Valley companies’ “fear of and deference to” Jobs was a large reason for the willingness of other tech companies to join in the alleged conspiracy in which major players are said to have agreed not to hire each others’ employees, the Financial Times reports.

“There is compelling evidence that Steve Jobs … was a, if not the, central figure in the alleged conspiracy,” Koh wrote as she rejected a proposed $324.5 million settlement in the case.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin was more succinct. He was quoted as saying, “I think Mr. Jobs’ view was that people shouldn’t piss him off. And I think that things that pissed him off were — would be hiring, you know — whatever.”

[FT]

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