Tech companies poach each other’s employees on a regular basis; a week rarely goes by without something alone the lines of a Yahoo-to-Google or Zynga-to-Twitter transfer occurring. Only it seems Microsoft’s getting more than a little tired of losing employees to Facebook, and may unleash a few lawyers in an effort to keep one person from changing sides.
Kara Swisher, who broke news of this possibility late yesterday, reported, "Microsoft – furious over a recent talent grab of its top advertising exec by Facebook – has been considering a wide range of options, including legal action to block the move, according to sources close to the situation."
Then Swisher continued, "Lawyer[s] at both companies have been in back-and-forth talks in recent days after the hiring of Microsoft’s global ad sales head Carolyn Everson by the Silicon Valley social networking powerhouse to be its VP of global sales."
That’s not to say a lawsuit is inevitable. However some people at Microsoft may feel about this personnel issue, Facebook continues to be an important partner, letting Bing offer special features (such as Liked Results) that Google and other search engines can’t match.
Also, Facebook’s in Microsoft’s debt to some degree, considering the larger corporation invested $240 million (at a valuation of $15 billion) when such a move was thought to be somewhere between laughable and insane.
So we’ll see what happens. An agreement that would let Everson switch jobs but prevent her from stealing Microsoft’s advertisers is one possible compromise, according to Swisher.
Facebook and Microsoft will just have to be careful that they don’t anger the Department of Justice, which wrapped up an investigation into an Apple, Adobe, Google, Intel, Intuit, and Pixar "no poaching" agreement last year.