The recent case of Kai-Fu Lee, a Microsoft VP who dared to leave MS for Google has a temporary conclusion:
A former Microsoft Corp. executive who defected to Google Inc. cannot immediately perform the job Google hired him to do, a judge ruled Thursday, saying Microsoft has a well-grounded fear that leaked trade secrets could hurt its business.
Whenever this happens I’m stunned by the arrogance of employers who, unsatisfied with exchanging compensation for services rendered, seem to think they can dictate the course of their employees’ lives.
In the case of Microsoft it is particularly galling, both because of their bullying attitude in the marketplace and because they seem to think that they are above the standards set for others. Witness what MS did to Borland the late 1990s, as reported on CNET.com:
Borland claims that in the past 30 months, Microsoft has hired 34 of the ailing software developer’s key employees by offering “large signing bonuses of several millions of dollars and other incentives.”
The suit claims that many of those former employees now hold strategic positions at Microsoft that mirror their former roles at Borland. Yocam said Microsoft is targeting key employees who can use their knowledge to improve Microsoft’s products.
(Borland attorney) Yocam maintains that Microsoft is luring personnel away with huge signing bonuses, some in excess of $1 million. “They have the audacity to send limos to Borland’s headquarters to take Borland employees out to lunch.
When this was occuring, Borland was clearly beating Microsoft in the software development tools market. Within a very short time, their products were irrelevant.
Et tu, Steve B.? You learned your lesson, but turnabout is fair play.