Inside the Ugly Recruitment Battle Between Facebook and Google

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In the high stakes world of Silicon Valley's tech giants, the competition for the best talent is particularly fierce. Last week, Amazon pursued legal action against Google, claiming a non-compete was violated when they poached AWS strategic partnerships manager Zoltan Szabadi. Now more of the gritty details surrounding big tech hiring practices have come out in the open.

For example, Google — which has an extremely efficient and personal recruitment program — considered using its co-founders to personally recruit Facebook employees. In addition, if a Google employee is offered a job by Facebook, the company will make a counteroffer within an hour.

These hiring practice details became known because of a large class-action lawsuit about big tech collusion this currently ongoing. As many as 64,000 tech workers have accused Google, Apple, Intel, and Adobe of colluding to suppress wages, effectively agreeing they would not poach one another's employees. Because Facebook was not a part of this alleged deal, Google executives were concerned about how "Facebook aggressively courted Google employees." 

In one email, two Google directors (Paul Otellini and John Doerr) suggest Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page personally recruit Facebook talent. Prasad Setty, Google’s vice president of compensation, wrote in April 2010, "Paul/John asked who was reaching out to the target Facebookers. They suggested that we have Larry/Sergey and Eng execs reach out rather than the Staffing leads." 

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Shannon Deegan, a Google security operations director, expressed caution at that time, "I don’t agree that we should be asking Larry and Sergey to reach out to Facebookers. That will quickly be leaked and I believe won’t look great." 

While these emails were exchanged, there was no definitive proof in the court filing showing Page and Brin personally (or successfully) recruited any Facebookers. 

In 2008, Google staffing director Arnnon Geshuri discussed confronting Facebook recruiters. "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."

Initially, the workers aimed for a $3 billion settlement, however, the settlement amount is currently $324 million, pending the approval of U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.