Wouldn’t Have Happened If Tim Cook Had Been in Charge

Pando continues its thorough coverage of the Apple/Google-led no-poaching wage-fixing cartel case. You have to laugh at this, from Sergey Brin, after being shown an email from Steve Jobs:

Wow, Steve used a smiley. God, I never got one of those.

But overall, this is serious business. From Pando’s report a week ago:

Schmidt responded:

I would prefer that Omid do it verbally since I don’t want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later? Not sure about this.. thanks Eric

Google’s HR head at the time, Shona Brown, agreed with her boss, in lower-case ee cummings syntax:

makes sense to do orally. i agree.

(Seems bizarre to me that Schmidt wasn’t aware that an email trail is just as incriminating as a paper trail — and more easily searched.)

What strikes me is that I feel confident saying Apple wouldn’t be in this trouble if Tim Cook had been in charge at the time. If I want to be cynical, I’d say that’s because Cook is too careful to put anything like this in writing. If I want to be idealistic, I’d say it’s because Cook would not have agreed to participate in the agreement in the first place — that he’d have recognized that it was both legally and morally wrong.

This sort of imperious behavior is the worst aspect of Steve Jobs’s legacy. His hubris helped Apple achieve great things, but this is not the only time it landed the company in legal trouble. For all the scrutiny Tim Cook has faced — and will continue to face, for the remainder of his career — regarding the numerous ways that Apple misses Steve Jobs, it’s been under-remarked that in other ways, Apple is better served without an imperious CEO.