Apple CEO Steve Jobs reached out to the former Palm CEO Ed Colligan two years ago to propose the two companies agree not to hire away each others' employees, a new report revealed.
The August 2007 communications and exchanges between Jobs and Colligan were reviewed by Bloomberg, which detailed the two CEOs' back-and-forth exchanges in a published report on Thursday. Colligan mulled over Jobs' proposal, but ultimately determined it was wrong and possibly illegal, the report said.
"We must do whatever we can to stop this," Bloomberg said Jobs wrote to Colligan.
Colligan, however, refused to play ball, calling Jobs' proposal wrong and possibly illegal.
"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," Colligan wrote in the communications, adding he considered offering hiring concessions before deciding against it.
In response to Colligan's refusing to honor the gentleman's agreement and not hire away Apple employees, Jobs also reportedly threatened action against Palm, highlighting that Apple has a lot of money and a number of patents at its disposal should a court battle ensue.
The Bloomberg report comes as the U.S. Department of Justice probes possible collusion in hiring among high-tech companies, though Palm told Bloomberg it has not been contacted by the Justice Department.
Jobs' plea for an antipoaching agreement came roughly two months after 15-year Apple veteran and iPod co-creator Jon Rubinstein left Apple for Palm. Rubinstein joined Palm in 2007 and this year was named the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based mobile device company's CEO after Colligan stepped down in June.
Rubinstein was the first of many Apple workers to defect to Palm in the two years since Rubinstein flew the Apple coop. In January 2008, Palm wooed away Mike Bell, a 16-year Apple employee as its president of product development. Two months later, Lynn Fox, former head of Mac PR for Apple, joined Palm's PR team as vice president of public relations. And earlier this month, former Apple designer Jeff Zwerner joined Palm as its head of brand design.
Reports indicate that along with Bell, Fox and Zwerner, Rubinstein has also brought aboard a host of former Apple engineers as Palm built the Palm Pre smartphone and its new webOS in a bid to rival the now-iconic Apple iPhone.