Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe to pay $324 million to settle conspiracy lawsuit


Four major tech companies including Apple and Google have agreed to pay a total of $324 million to settle a lawsuit accusing them of conspiring to hold down salaries in Silicon Valley, sources familiar with the deal said, just weeks before a high profile trial had been scheduled to begin.


The case has been closely watched due to the potentially high damages award and the opportunity to peek into the world of Silicon Valley’s elite. The case was based largely on emails in which Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and some of their Silicon Valley rivals hatched plans to avoid poaching each other’s prized engineers.

In one email exchange after a Google recruiter solicited an Apple employee, Schmidt told Jobs that the recruiter would be fired, court documents show. Jobs then forwarded Schmidt’s note to a top Apple human resources executive with a smiley face.

Glad that’s over. I can’t imagine this would be anything but a giant distraction.

  • IamSidney

    You’re being quite cavalier, callous and a bit too naïve saying that it’s all simply “a giant distraction.”

    If CEOs (or any other tyrannical/imperious execs) break the law, they are and must be PERSONALLY held responsible, and ergo punished. These very individuals would very easily do the same to their employees and go after them without batting an eyelid. In fact, that former Google recruiter (Stephanie Buran?) might be well within her rights to sue Google AND its execs for wrongful termination. (Recall Jobs’ response with a smiley when he was informed about this via email?)

    Everyone has their (character) flaws. Steve Jobs included: (From John Gruber)

    Bill Campbell too: (From Jay Yarrow)

  • $324 million sounds like just enough to enrich the lawyers, and not nearly enough to compensate a generation of top developers who had their career mobility strait-jacketed by this arrangement.

    • IamSidney

      Yup. It’s really ironic that it’s all ending just the way it started: Collusion.

      All right, fine… “Agreeing together.”

  • GadgetGav

    Aside from Dave Mark’s dismissive brush off, @realinvalidname:disqus has it right. There’s no details in the Reuters piece on the actual terms of the settlement, but if it’s anything like other class action suits, most of that headline amount will be going to the lawyers and very little to the people who were harmed by the illegal anti-poaching agreements. Who else got $0.37 for a non-NYT best seller Kindle book as part of the price fixing settlement?

    And of course, by settling before trial the companies involved can still claim to have never been convicted of illegal practices.

  • Lukas

    This is completely incredible. I don’t mind corporations going after each other. Every time Jim calls Samsung scumbags for stealing Apple’s ideas, I just have to laugh. This, though? Screwing over your own employees like this? This is utterly despicable. So the next time Jim calls Samsung scumbags for going after Apple, I hope somebody reminds him of this.

  • MichaelQ

    How did it get so far before they settled?