Disclaimer: This is not an encyclopedia article. This is an essay offering certain facts and expressing my opinions about a newly approved member of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.
Update: Arnnon Geshuri resigned from the WMF Board of Trustees on January 27, 2016.
|This page in a nutshell: Board of Trustees members must be held to a higher standard regarding integrity.|
Arnnon Geshuri was appointed to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees by a unanimous vote on January 5, 2016. WMF Executive Director Lila Tretikov praised his integrity. Geshuri has had a long career as a personnel executive at Silicon Valley corporations including NUMMI, Applied Materials, E-Trade, Google and Tesla. According to the San Jose Mercury News, his "reputation as a Silicon Valley legend in the realm of staffing and recruiting was cemented at Google", and Geshuri himself said "I thought I knew recruiting and staffing but Google really changed my perspective." Geshuri was a high ranking Google recruitment and hiring executive from 2004–2009, supervising a team that grew to 900 recruiters during a period when a massive scandal was developing in the department he managed.
"No poaching" scandal
Google senior management including Eric Schmidt had entered into an illegal "no-poaching" pact with Apple Inc. senior management including Steve Jobs that prohibited Apple and Google from recruiting each other's employees; Google had entered into its anticompetitive "no poaching" agreements in 2006 and 2007, when Geshuri was running Google's recruitment operations. Schmidt was a member of Apple's board of directors at that time. Also involved were other Silicon Valley corporations Intel, Adobe Systems, Intuit and Pixar. Geshuri was tasked with enforcing the existing illegal agreements and attempting to negotiate new agreements of the same kind with other Silicon Valley corporations.
The United States Department of Justice investigated the no-poaching agreements and determined that they "restrained competition" and that the "agreements eliminated a significant form of competition to attract highly skilled employees, and overall diminished competition to the detriment of affected employees who were likely deprived of competitively important information and access to better job opportunities." In 2010, the DOJ forced the companies to cease the "no poaching" practice.
The scandal led to a federal class action lawsuit that resulted in a 2015 settlement requiring Google and the other offending companies to pay US$415 million to help compensate 64,000 employees for the damages to their careers. The companies had previously tried to settle the case for US$324.5 million, but Federal judge Lucy H. Koh rejected that offer as inadequate.
Another federal lawsuit was filed in March 2015 on behalf of Google stockholders against 17 senior Google board members and executives including Arnnon Geshuri, which alleges that these individuals "illegally conspired to drive down wages for over 100,000 workers in Silicon Valley," according to the suit. "This misconduct caused significant damage to Google and its shareholders. Defendants caused and/or blindly looked away when Google entered into illegal anticompetitive hiring agreements with its rival companies. These unlawful restraint of trade agreements were intended to and did in fact reduce employee compensation and mobility for high-tech employees."
Geshuri's personal role
Court documents reported on by PandoDaily reveal that during the "no poaching" scandal, Geshuri was personally involved in an ugly incident that cost a Google recruiter her job. In March 2007, one of Geshuri's subordinates sent a recruitment email to an Apple employee. Steve Jobs of Apple learned of the email and asked Eric Schmidt to put a stop to it. PandoDaily reported that the "language is brutal, and as you'll see, there's an almost sadistic, military glee on all sides with the way in which the Google recruiter is 'terminated'." Geshuri immediately fired the employee, reporting in an email:
On this specific case, the sourcer who contacted this Apple employee should not have and will be terminated within the hour. We are scrubbing the sourcer's records to ensure she did not contact anyone else. In general, we have a very clear 'do not call' policy (attached) that is given to every staffing professional and I reiterate this message in ongoing communications and staffing meetings. Unfortunately, every six months or so someone makes an error in judgment, and for this type of violation we terminate their relationship with Google. Please extend my apologies as appropriate to Steve Jobs. This was an isolated incident and we will be very careful to make sure this does not happen again.
Google Vice President Shona Brown endorsed Geshuri's abrupt termination of the woman:
Appropriate response. Please make a public example of this termination within the group. Please also make it a very strong part of new hire training for the group. I want it clear that we have a zero-tolerance policy for violating our policies.
Steve Jobs responded to the abrupt end to this woman's career with a happy face emoticon in an email.
Federal judge Lucy Koh wrote that in 2008, Geshuri energetically tried to draw Facebook into the illegal scheme to suppress tech employee wages, and threatened retaliation if Facebook did not join the conspiracy:
In March of 2008, Arnnon Geshuri (Google Recruiting Director) discovered that non-party Facebook had been cold calling into Google's Site Reliability Engineering ("SRE") team. Geshur's first response was to suggest contacting Sheryl Sandberg (Chief Operating Officer for non-party Facebook) in an effort to "ask her to put a stop to the targeted sourcing effort directed at our SRE team" and "to consider establishing a mutual 'Do Not Call' agreement that specifies that we will not cold-call into each other." Arnnon Geshuri also suggested "look[ing] internally and review[ing] the attrition rate for the SRE group," stating, "[w]e may want to consider additional individual retention incentives or team incentives to keep attrition as low as possible in SRE." Finally, an alternative suggestion was to "[s]tart an aggressive campaign to call into their company and go after their folks—no holds barred. We would be unrelenting and a force of nature."
Because of this evidence of Geshuri's misconduct in this scandal, I believe that he should not be a member of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.
Comments by Jimmy Wales
Originally posted at User talk: Jimbo Wales
I cannot speak for the entire board. As for myself, I was aware (from googling him and reading news reports) that he had a small part in the overall situation when he was told by Eric Schmidt that Google had a policy of not recruiting from Apple, and that a recruiter had done it, and that the recruiter should be fired, and he agreed to do so. As for your other allegations, that he "helped manage that collusion", the part about some "ugly and humiliating" termination, and chastisement by a Federal Judge, I don't (yet) know anything about that.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 09:41, 8 January 2016 (UTC)
Sure, I'll offer my views when the time is right. At the moment, I'm waiting for a staff report and some board discussion to take place. It would be inappropriate for me to offer a public opinion at this early stage.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 08:03, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
- High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation – involves a 2010 United States Department of Justice (DOJ) antitrust action and a 2013 civil class action against several Silicon Valley companies for alleged "no cold call" agreements which restrained the recruitment of high-tech employees. The defendants are Adobe, Apple Inc., Google, Intel, Intuit, Pixar, Lucasfilm and eBay, all high-technology companies with a principal place of business in the San Francisco–Silicon Valley area of California.
- So you've made a mistake and it's public...
- Vote of confidence:Arnnon Geshuri, Wikimedia community vote of no confidence.
- "Kelly Battles and Arnnon Geshuri join Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees". Wikimedia Blog. Wikimedia Foundation. January 5, 2016. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
Arnnon brings more than 20 years of experience in developing strong organizational cultures with diverse, passionate employees. He is currently the VP of Human Resources at Tesla Motors, where he shepherds Tesla's unique culture and oversees all global people operations, analytics, and staffing. Before joining Tesla, Arnnon served as Senior Director of HR and Staffing at Google, where he built the company's talent acquisition and diversity strategy, growing the organization to more than 20,000 people in five years. Earlier in his career, Arnnon served as Vice President of People Operations and Director of Global Staffing at E*TRADE Financial.
- Hull, Dana (December 12, 2011). "The man to see about a job at Tesla". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- Liedtke, Michael (September 3, 2015). "Big settlement in tech wage case harks back to different era". Associated Press. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- "Justice Department Requires Six High Tech Companies to Stop Entering into Anticompetitive Employee Solicitation Agreements: Settlement Preserves Competition for High Tech Employees". Department of Justice - Office of Public Affairs. United States Department of Justice. September 24, 2010. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
"The agreements challenged here restrained competition for affected employees without any procompetitive justification and distorted the competitive process," said Molly S. Boast, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division.
- Dinzeo, Maria (March 23, 2015). "Google Shareholders Miffed Over Wage Fight". Courthouse News Service. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- Ames, Mark (March 25, 2014). "Newly unsealed documents show Steve Jobs' brutal response after getting a Google employee fired". PandoDaily. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- Luckerson, Victor (March 29, 2014). "Steve Jobs' Chilling Response After Getting a Google Employee Fired: A Justice Department investigation into accusations that major tech companies collaborated to limit workers' wages has revealed some surprising emails between former Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt". Time. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- Hollister, Sean (January 27, 2012). "Steve Jobs personally asked Eric Schmidt to stop poaching employees, and other unredacted statements in a Silicon Valley scandal". The Verge. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- Ames, Mark (March 30, 2014). "Court docs: Google hiked wages to combat "hot, young" Facebook after Sandberg refused to join hiring cartel". PandoDaily. Retrieved January 7, 2015.