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The behavior seems slimy (otherwise there'd be no need to be all cloak-and-dagger about it), but the interpretation seems sensationalist (Pando: "Price Fixing!"). As far as I can tell from the evidence, this was a 'no cold call' agreement, not an agreement not to hire people who apply or to set their wages, perhaps with the exception of high level managers or executives, most of whom, if they wanted to demand higher salary, could leak or threaten to leave for another company, and who are often under other constraints. In fact, it's not even clear this is about wages per say, but the disruption that comes from breaking up team and concerns over intellectual property/trade secrets leaking.

I'd be pissed if I applied for another job and was turned down purely because of my previous employer. But I'm not phased by avoiding cold calls. I still get loads of emails trying to recruit me and they're mostly annoying. If I decide to switch jobs, it'll be because I initiate it, not because of HR reps phoning me.

If you were around during the last dot-com boom, you may remember the ridiculous poaching that went on, startups offering insane signing bonuses and other perks, employees changing jobs after only a few months on the job. I worked for a company once that had $100+ million in Softbank funding, and funneled a huge amount of it through headhunters which received a bounty on each hire, and were incentived to bribe prospects to quit their current job.

I'm not sure this is healthy for the industry as a whole. There's already an apparent bubble in asset prices and cost of living in the Bay Area, and while it seems good for some tech workers in the short term to have salaries pumped through the roof, I'm not sure it's good for the overall tech economy, or the economy in general.

I'm somewhat sympathetic to the notion that companies want to avoid aggressive and invasive poaching on each other's workforces, it could turn into mutually assured destruction. If I had a startup, I'd be pissed of someone came along (and poached my employees instead of an acqui-hire) that I spent significant amounts of resources recruiting and training.

To read some of the press articles, you'd think this was the Grapes of Wrath or something, that poor tech workers, the ones who drive around in luxury busses and pay $3000-5000/mo for studio apartments in SF, are woefully under compensated. I wonder if this was a story about Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan conspiring to keep down the compensation of Wall Street money managers through no poach agreements, we'd have the same coverage.

Here's analogy. Let's say there is an employee marketplace. Employers list jobs for offer and salary. Employees list skills, availability, and asking salary. If the employers don't conspire to artificially restrict the offers and salary prices listed, would we say this is a competitive market with no price fixing?

Ok, now let's say that besides listing the jobs and prices, Employers activity solicit buyers. With stocks regulated because of issues (http://www.sec.gov/answers/cold.htm). But let's say employers cold call the employees and tell them to 'buy' a particular offer. Then at some point, the companies cease using sales forces to go out and cold call people to buy these offers. Instead, employees must come to the market of their own accord and bid on them. Is this really price fixing?

If all brokers stopped calling you trying to get you to "Buy XYZW", you wouldn't consider them trying to manipulate the price of XYWZ.




>If you were around during the last dot-com boom, you may remember the ridiculous poaching that went on...

>I'm somewhat sympathetic to the notion that companies want to avoid aggressive and invasive poaching on each other's workforces...

>If I had a startup, I'd be pissed of someone came along (and poached my employees instead of an acqui-hire) that I spent significant amounts of resources recruiting and training...

I find the term "poaching" in this context to be disgusting. Employees aren't game captured by underhanded or illicit tactics. Employees are human beings that think and make decisions for themselves, and talk of them being "poached" as if it wasn't their choice is offensive.

>There's already an apparent bubble in asset prices and cost of living in the Bay Area

House prices are artificially high because of NIMBY zoning laws set by the very wealthy , and NOT the tech employees in question. The strata of middle class are being pitted against each other by the wealthy.

> and while it seems good for some tech workers in the short term to have salaries pumped through the roof, I'm not sure it's good for the overall tech economy, or the economy in general.

When a company keeps the money instead of paying its employees, the money is funneled to stockholders, who are in general richer and fewer in number than the employees. Are you seriously suggesting, in spite of the abject failure of trickle down economics, that giving money to the middle class tech workers instead of the wealthy (owners of the company, and shareholders) is bad for the economy?

>To read some of the press articles, you'd think this was the Grapes of Wrath or something, that poor tech workers, the ones who drive around in luxury busses and pay $3000-5000/mo for studio apartments in SF, are woefully under compensated

"No poaching agreements" ineluctably means THEFT. $10,000 a year extra is a lot of money for tech workers and their families. The victims were skilled workers that were deserving of the pay stolen from them. Your suggestion that we shouldn't empathize with any victims of theft if they're not destitute is fatuous and offensive.


>I find the term "poaching" in this context to be disgusting. Employees aren't game captured by underhanded or illicit tactics. Employees are human beings that think and make decisions for themselves, and talk of them being "poached" as if it wasn't their choice is offensive.

The word "poach" by definition isn't exclusively tied to animals, but rather refers to property or other potential resources associated with another.


Got it, not animals... property


Take your pick. "To take without permission", or "to catch by trespassing on private property", is that better?

Feel free to be outraged by the practice of collusion, but is it worth getting upset about a vague slang industry terminology?

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/poach


Money is only funneled to stockholders if it is used for dividends or stock buy backs, or indirectly, acquisitions. other possibilities are hiring more workers, spending more on capital purchases, doing more r&d, or making exterior investments.

Calling this theft when the tech workers (im not counting executives and high level salesmen) in question could apply for positions themselves if there were dissatisfied with their current compensation is hyperbole.


"As far as I can tell from the evidence, this was a 'no cold call' agreement, not an agreement not to hire people who apply or to set their wages"

There has been plenty of evidence over the past 12 months that there was exactly such an agreement "not to hire people who apply".


Did you read to the end of the article? You know, to the part where the actual internal policy document is posted.

If you had actually read that far you would have seen that this was in fact a "no cold call" agreement for engineers.

If there is plenty of evidence to support your alternative claim, would you mind posting some? Because the original document posted in this article appears to show clearly that the policy was simply "do not cold call".


>Did you read to the end of the article? You know, to the part where the actual internal policy document is posted. If you had actually read that far you would have seen that this was in fact a "no cold call" agreement for engineers.

From the end of the article you just referred to:

>Google has agreed to the following protocol: 1. Not to pursue manager level and above candidates for Product, Sales, or G&A roles - even if they have applied to Google.

So yeah, Scott_w is correct in saying that there was an explicit agreement not to hire people who apply. It does not get more explicit than written in black and white on an official hiring policy memo.

Regarding engineers, the poster above you referred specifically to 'people', not the subset 'engineers'. He was correct in his statement and it appears that he did, in fact, read the article all the way to the bottom.


The crux of your argument is :

1) keeping wages suppressed might be a good thing for the regional economy and long-term health of the tech industry

2) tech workers are already well compensated

Those are fair opinions, but the behavior described is still illegal. This is one of those situations where we can't have it both ways.


He makes both of those points, but I think the point of hours argument is that the behavior we're seeing is tech companies agreeing not to cold call, and no other form of not hiring or price fixing, and that as long as this is limited to stopping cold calls it isn't illegal.


I believe it is illegal to have companies collude to not actively recruit ("cold call") from each other. It diminishes the market demand for those employees and indirectly suppresses their wage.


> tech companies agreeing not to cold call, and no other form of not hiring or price fixing, and that as long as this is limited to stopping cold calls it isn't illegal.

Yes, it's still illegal.


Point number 1 in Google's "do not cold call protocol" clearly states that manager level and above candidates from these firms are not to be pursued even if they have applied to Google.


No, that's the "Restricted Hiring" section. The "Do Not Cold Call" section says nothing of the sort.

The Restricted Hiring section is actually rather interesting. Why the ban on pursuing managers from Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, and Sun? Of note it says that only for "Product, Sales, of G&A roles", but pursuing engineering at any level is fine.


There's a lot being lost in the spin of these agreements as "price fixing". It looks to me like companies were also trying to prevent leakage of product plans, and minimize the disruptiveness/cost of high turnover.


> Why the ban on pursuing managers from Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, and Sun

Because the agreements quickly expanded to include those companies.




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