Google and Pals: Redefining Hiring along with Search

March 23, 2014

I read “Emails From Google’s Eric Schmidt And Sergey Brin Show A Shady Agreement Not To Hire Apple Workers.” Let’s assume the emails suggesting that certain outfits agreed to adopt certain hiring practices. In the happy land of Silicon Valley, big companies have to have some freedom. In the context of Bernie Madoff, the BearStearns’ misstep, and the actions of vendors responsible for the roll out Healthcare.gov site—what’s the big deal.

The logic of marketing oriented, big buck business operates in a way different from the gas station in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky. I am delighted that some companies can agree to respect some informal guidelines. I admire a search vendor who can have as pals some executives at other giant, with it firms.

Name a person who has been disadvantaged by the present whiz whiz approach to business. I noted this passage in the cited write up, which may be completely off base:

These emails will make you angry if you believe that companies ought to compete instead of fix prices. They’ll make you even angrier if you believe that workers have the right to sell their labor at the maximum price the market will bear — because Jobs, Schmidt and Brin appear to have spent years instructing their recruiters and HR staff to avoid hiring staff from each others’ companies, according to Pando:

… what began as a secret cartel agreement between Apple’s Steve Jobs and Google’s Eric Schmidt to illegally fix the labor market for hi-tech workers, expanded within a few years to include companies ranging from Dell, IBM, eBay and Microsoft, to Comcast, Clear Channel, Dreamworks, and London-based public relations behemoth WPP. All told, the combined workforces of the companies involved totals well over a million employees.

My hunch is that MBAs are okay with this approach to business. Engineers, although important, are not business people, just cube dwellers. Googlers and Apple fans are just doing what is natural in a Darwinian world where nature may be red in tooth and claw.

Good business is what’s important. Forget such analog notions as fairness, ethical behavior, and integrity. It’s 2014 and search is just fine as long as one does not expect comprehensiveness, precision, and recall. Search for something meaningful and click on those ads or buy a product with questionable provenance. It’s 2014. New rules apply it seems.

Stephen E Arnold, March 23, 2014

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