(Adds California AG lawsuit also settled, eBay statement, share
By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON May 1 The online commerce company
eBay Inc has agreed to refrain from making deals with
other technology companies to not poach each others' employees
and by doing so limit workers' access to better jobs, U.S.
authorities said on Thursday.
EBay had been accused by the Justice Department of reaching
an agreement with Intuit Inc, a software company best
known for its tax preparation programs, to not recruit from each
"EBay's agreement with Intuit served no purpose but to limit
competition between the two firms for employees, distorting the
labor market and causing employees to lose opportunities for
better jobs and higher pay," said Bill Baer, assistant attorney
general for antitrust at the U.S. Department of Justice.
The lawsuit, and similar legal issues involving other
technology companies, highlight the intense competition for
talent in Silicon Valley.
In this case, eBay and Intuit reached a "handshake"
agreement in 2006 involving executives including then-eBay chief
executive Meg Whitman and Intuit founder Scott Cook, according
to court documents. At the time Cook, who was serving on eBay's
board, complained about eBay poaching Intuit employees. Whitman
is now chief executive at Hewlett-Packard Co.
Federal and state antitrust regulators sued eBay in 2012.
Intuit was not named as a defendant because it was already
part of a wide-ranging 2010 lawsuit that federal officials
brought against six technology companies, including Apple
and Google. Those companies settled.
California also settled on Thursday with eBay, which agreed
to pay the state $3.75 million to compensate people who were
hurt by the no-poach agreements, among other costs.
EBay admitted no wrongdoing. It said in a statement that it
believed that "the policy that prompted this lawsuit was
acceptable and legal, and led to no anticompetitive effects in
the talent market in which eBay competed."
"EBay competes aggressively to attract and retain the best
talent, while conforming to the hiring practices standards
established by the Department of Justice in prior hiring-related
cases against other companies," the company added in the
Asked about the eBay statement that it broke no laws, Baer
told reporters: "We have no doubt that this was problematic
conduct that violated the antitrust laws."
EBay's share price was little changed at $51.89 and Intuit
was up about 0.2 percent at $75.92 in afternoon trading.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Additional reporting by Dan Levine;
Editing by Ros Krasny, Doina Chiacu, Sandra Maler and Chizu