Search Companies Part of Fed Antitrust Investigation into Hiring Practices

Do tech companies have a secret agreement not to aggressively hire away talent from each other? That’s the question behind a new federal antitrust investigation, and search companies are not immune.

Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft have already received requests for information. Of course, it’s easy to understand why companies would want to prevent their talent from heading elsewhere – their secrets just might end up at a competitor’s headquarters. Most recently, Jonathan Miller had to wait out his non-compete agreement with AOL before beginning his new role as chief digital officer at NewsCorp.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has hired several people who used to work for Yahoo! Though I’m sure that gets Yahoo!’s goat a little, there hasn’t been much of a fuss. Some companies would sue if their talent so quickly jumped ship. (Of course, Microsoft is a big company with other divisions, where the hiring practices could come into question.)

The federal government is increasingly investigating antitrust issues regarding tech and search. Last year, they became quite wary of a search advertising deal between Google and Yahoo! When it became clear the investigation would lead to a lawsuit, Google backed out.

But Google’s antitrust problems did not end there. They are currently under investigation for their book settlement and for their ties with Apple. By the way, Apple is another one of the companies being examined in the hiring practices investigation.

Do you think search companies are engaging in anticompetitive hiring practices? Should they be investigated? Let it fly in the comments.

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