In April, the technology media was sent aflutter when Apple was discovered to be hiring Kevin Timmons from Microsoft. At that time, Timmons had spent the prior two years as a key member of Microsoft’s data centers. Apple wanted him.
We can now nearly certainly say that the reason Cupertino was fishing in Redmond’s pond was for its now-released iCloud project. If you have somehow missed its launch, head here and here to get caught up. Essentially, Apple needed some top talent, and Microsoft had it. And yet, months after the plan to snag Timmons became known, he was discovered to not be working for Apple, but is instead currently employed by CyrusOne, a company that also works with data centers.
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So, what gives? According to recent reporting by BusinessInsider, Microsoft went to the mattresses over the issue. When current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer learned of what was afoot, he told Apple that if they stole Timmons, there would be a legal response. In other words, Microsoft put forth the ol’ poison pill strategy.
But let’s take a step back, why was Timmons up for hire? According to the same report by BI, he was unhappy at Microsoft, and wanted to jump ship. But once Ballmer told Apple what it would do if it did hire Timmons, Apple backed out. Timmons was then unemployed. Ouch.
This level of bickering over talent is not new, especially among the most competitive of companies, such as Apple and Microsoft. Ballmer himself is rumored to have thrown a chair in anger when he learned that a ‘Softie was headed to Google. According to the employee in question, Ballmer released the following tirade: “Fucking Eric Schmidt is a fucking pussy. I’m going to fucking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to fucking kill Google.” Ballmer later stated that that recounting of events was an exaggeration.
Whatever the case, Microsoft lost Timmons and Apple didn’t get him, so perhaps things worked out in Redmond’s favor.