Antitrust officials have come up with an interesting application of the monopoly laws. They believe that large tech firms like Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), and Yahoo! (YHOO) conspired to keep down the compensation of tech employees.
According toThe Washington Post, “The Justice Department has launched an investigation into whether some of the nation’s largest technology companies violated antitrust laws by negotiating the recruiting and hiring of one another’s employees.”
The probe will probably not go anywhere because so many of the employees at big tech firms are leaving for start-ups. The best people from Microsoft (MSFT), Google, and Apple have been moving on to new companies and turnarounds for years. Firms like Facebook and AOL have picked off some of the best executives from larger, more successful operations.
Retaining workers at technology companies has a great deal to do with the value of the stock options that they have been granted. As the shares of firms like Google has stopped moving up 25% per year, the value of these options has decreased or disappeared. People leave to join companies where they believe that most of the increase in the worth of those companies is ahead.
If there was a hiring conspiracy in Silicon Valley, it has not worked very well.
Douglas A. McIntyre