According to a story by Jon Fingas, “Google may be doing more to boost Motorola’s presence than whipping up a new device strategy, if rumors are true. The website AllThingsD claims that Google has poached Samsung’s American VP for strategic marketing, Brian Wallace, for a roughly equivalent role at Motorola.”
The story, and the poaching of Wallace, have significance because, as the headline on a story by Dow Jones Newswires’ Amir Efrati declares, “Samsung’s Heft in Android Worries Google.” The story notes that “Samsung Electronics Co. has become the biggest seller of mobile devices using Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating system. That creates a problem for Google.”
At a Google event last fall, Efrati wrote, Android head Andy Rubin “praised Samsung’s success and said the partnership had been mutually beneficial.” But Rubin also said that “Samsung could become a threat if it attains a dominant position among mobile-device manufacturers that use Android,” and he added that “Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility, which makes Android-based smartphones and tablets, served as a kind of insurance policy, or ‘hedge,’ against a manufacturer such as Samsung gaining too much power over Android.”
The intricacies of this delicate dance between Google and Samsung got me to thinking: What other companies are poaching the top executives away from their competition as a way to fend off business threats?
It turns out it’s a more common practice than one might expect.
Another story carries the headline “Twitter Shuffles Top Brass With New COO and CFO Appointments.” noting that “changes in the top ranks have been some time coming, as Twitter has spent the past year reorganizing the company into different teams, headed by high-profile tech hires stolen from other big companies around Silicon Valley (Google perhaps being the prime poaching target).”
Another story written by John Paczowski, headlined “Amazon Poaches Windows Phone Director,” details how “Robert Williams, a 15-year Microsoft veteran who most recently served as senior director of business development for the company’s Windows Phone division, started work at Amazon today. His new role: Director of the retailer’s app store. Williams joins Brandon Watson, senior director of Windows Phone development, who left Microsoft this past February.” Paczowski noted that although “there’s no hard evidence to suggest that either of the two is working on Amazon’s rumored smartphone, their CVs (curriculum vitas) and smartphone experience certainly lend credence to the idea.
Part of the increased poaching activity can be traced back to a settlement revealed in 2010 between the Departmentof Justice and a half-dozen tech companies in the Silicon Valley over an alleged no-poaching agreement that had been negotiated among the firms. The companies named in the settlement include Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit and Pixar.
Paczkowski, in a story dated Sept. 24, 2010, wrote that “the U.S. Department of Justice has reached an agreement with six major Silicon Valley companies over their employee recruiting practices and alleged no-poaching agreements.” His story includes a quote from deputy assistant attorney general Molly Boast, who said: “The agreements challenged here restrained competition for affected employees without any procompetitive justification.”
Now we know why poaching season is open in the Silicon Valley.
– John Jarvis