…used to be Google’s much admired motto, remember? The full statement of this philosophy, still to be found on the company’s website, is “You can make money without doing evil.” Well, yeah, but it turns out you can make even more money the other way:
The case involves some of the biggest high-tech companies in the business: Apple, Google, Intuit, Intel and others. As outlined in court documents and in a story at Pando.com by Mark Ames, back in mid-2000s the companies decided to limit the potential earning power of their highly educated employees by entering into a secret non-aggression pact or cartel.
As part of the pact, top executives in each company agreed not to recruit employees from each other with offers of higher pay; they agreed to notify each other when employees of another cartel member came to them looking to improve their job situation; and they agreed to share salary information, so that all the employers were basically offering the same pay scale for the same kind of work, making it more difficult for workers to improve their paychecks by shopping their talents.
According to the suit, companies that violated the non-aggression pact were threatened with large raids to steal their workforce, and enforcing the pact was made easier by the fact that top executives sat on the boards of other companies and reaped very handsome rewards for doing so. For example, Paul Otellini, CEO of cartel member Intel, was invited to join cartel member Google’s board of directors in 2004, an arrangement that netted him $23 million in 2007 alone. It was a club that protected itself very well.