TIME Apple

Steve Jobs’ Chilling Response After Getting a Google Employee Fired

Steve Jobs
Apple CEO Steve Jobs at Apple MacWorld Conference in San Francisco, Jan. 15, 2008. Jeff Chiu—AP

A Justice Department investigation into accusations that major tech companies collaborated to limit workers’ wages has revealed some surprising emails between former Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt

An ongoing investigation into an alleged conspiracy by Apple and Google to limit tech workers’ wages has unearthed some candid emails between former Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

According to a Department of Justice investigation, Google, Apple and several other tech companies entered into agreements in the mid-2000s to not recruit workers from each others’ companies, a policy that could potentially make it harder for employees to earn raises. The emails between Schmidt and Jobs indicate that this was a policy that the companies took quite seriously. In 2007, a Google recruiter sent an Apple engineer an unsolicited email to pitch job openings at the search giant. The attempted recruitment eventually floated all the way up the Apple food chain to Jobs, who emailed Schmidt directly to ask him to stop Google employees from recruiting at Apple. Schmidt, who was then Google’s CEO, immediately contacted Google’s human resources department, and the recruiter in question was “terminated within the hour,” according to an email by an HR executive.

Jobs’s response when he found out that a Googler trying to recruit one of his employees had been immediately fired? A smiley face.

Apple, Google and several other tech companies reached a settlement with the Department of Justice in 2010 to eliminate their non-compete policies. But workers who say they were negatively affected by the agreements have filed a class-action lawsuit that is set to go to trial in May.

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