Palm has had a habit of picking up Apple employees, most notably current CEO Jon Rubinstein, but also Jeff Zwerner, Paul Mercer, and doubtlessly plenty more. Apparently back when Colligan was running Palm, he had a conversation with Apple CEO Steve Jobs about the trend, and Jobs wanted to put a mutual end to it. We don’t hear much about Apple hiring ex-Palm employees, though it’s a safe bet that there’s some back and forth. Anyway, Rubinstein really didn’t like the idea.
“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.”
Apparently that’s true – antitrust laws prevent companies from limiting peoples’ rights to find gainful employment in their field. These talks between Colligan and Jobs happened awhile ago, and we can see how tensions have risen between the two companies since the launch of the Palm Pre. It would be interesting to see if employee swapping has intensified in light of the growing competition, or if the companies have managed to cling more tightly to their own people. On top of that, what would the landscape look like now if that truce had taken place? Would the Palm Pre have done as well if it weren’t for some of the artsy minds that were once core to Apple products?