TALES FROM THE TALENT WARS: These Are The Best Poaches In History

sheryl sandberg

Photo: AP

The fight to keep talent at high tech companies has never been more fierce.Google is reportedly handing out as much as $100 million to keep its employees from fleeing. Too many smart Google execs have hit the exits lately, and the company wants to keep the big brains in house.

Google isn’t trying to keep employees to make itself better, it’s to prevent its rivals from weakening Google.

Look at Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook. That’s one they wish they could get back.

Of course, Google has done its own poaching through the years.

We’ve taken a look at some of the best poaches in tech here.

Vic Gundotra left Microsoft and has helped expand Google's businesses

Gundotra was a platform evangelist at Microsoft working on developer relations. He was wooed away from Microsoft in 2006 to Google. What a big loss for Microsoft. Gundotra was instrumental in growing Android and now he's in charge of Google+. Gundotra has repeatedly shown himself to be a web visionary, which is just what Microsoft needs.

Former Yahoo Bradley Horowitz is building Google+

Yahoo sure could use a great product manager like Bradley Horowitz who is leading the creation of Google+ a pretty decent looking competitor to Facebook. It helps that he has the backing of Google, as opposed to Yahoo, but we're quite sure that Yahoo misses having a guy this in its ranks.

Sheryl Sandberg has been pretty much perfect for Facebook

Google may have made a huge blunder letting Sheryl Sandberg land at Facebook. She's helped guide the company to prosperity, and she's poached numerous other Googlers. Without Sandberg as the steady number two for Facebook is it a juggernaut that's scaring both Google and Apple? Maybe not.

Tim Cook came to Apple from Compaq

Talk about a great hire. Apple landed Tim Cook in 1998. He helped get the company back on its feet by organising its operations. He's now in line to be CEO if Steve Jobs ever steps down. Even with Jobs holding the title of CEO, Cook is already the de facto chief at the company running things on a day to day basis.

Jason Kilar jumped from Amazon and landed at Hulu

As Amazon attempts to build a great video streaming service, it's somewhat ironic to note that the CEO of Hulu was a former exec at Amazon. Jason Kilar left to work on Hulu.

Tim Armstrong left Google for AOL

Being the CEO of AOL is hardly anyone's idea of a dream job. It's a massive turnaround project that will take a true believer. Which is why AOL is very lucky to have Tim Armstrong. His record at CEO isn't exactly great, but he's heavily invested in the company and he's fighting to give it a chance.

Google poached Kai Fu Lee and made Steve Ballmer go crazy

Kai Fu Lee left Microsoft to help Google make a mark in China. While Google's Chinese business has been up and down, and Lee is not at the company anymore, this hire was one of the greatest in history because it made Steve Ballmer go crazy with rage.

When Ballmer found out about the poaching, he screamed, 'Fucking Eric Schmidt is a pussy! I'm going to fucking bury that guy! I have done it before and I will do it again. I'm going to fucking kill Google,' according to Microsoft exec Mark Lucovsky. He testified as part of a Google-Microsoft lawsuit, according to Steven Levey's In The Plex.

Tony Bates left Cisco, then sold Skype for $8 billion

It's hard to say how great a job Tony Bates has really done as CEO of Skype after less than a year. But, we must say it looks like a pretty good hire considering he helped sell the company for $8 billion to Microsoft.

Twitter stole its main money man away from News Corp.

The knock on Twitter has always been that it's not a real business. Well, Adam Bain, the chief revenue officer is trying to change all that. He's doing a decent job so far, with revenue estimated at $200 million for this year. He came to Twitter when it wooed him away from News Corp's digital operations.

JC Penny's decision to steal Ron Johnson looks pretty smart

It's premature to judge this one, but stealing Ron Johnson from Apple looks like a very good move from JC Penny. Johnson helped build Apple's impressive retail empire. Granted, he was aided greatly by Apple's great products, but still this is a good poach.

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