Steve Ballmer Torched This Ex-Microsoft Employee's Chance To Work On iCloud For Apple

kevin timmons

Photo: AP Images

In April news broke that Apple had poached Microsoft employee Kevin Timmons to help build out its cloud-computing services.Then in October, it turned out Timmons wasn’t at Apple. He was at CyrusOne, a data centre solutions company.

What happened?

According to sources close to the situation, when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer learned of Timmons’ defection, he told Apple there was no way it could hire him without legal trouble.

Kevin Timmons joined Microsoft in 2009 as general manager of data centre systems. According to rumours, Timmons was unhappy at Microsoft and wanted badly to move back to California. He approached Apple about a job and said he could bring down the costs of its data centres.

Apple liked the pitch and agreed to hire Timmons. His bosses at Microsoft — including some Yahoo alumni, like Timmons, tried to get him to stay, but that didn’t work out.

Eventually Timmons met with Ballmer, but Timmons had an attitude, a source tells us. After that, rumour has it that Ballmer called Apple and said the company would have legal problems with Timmons if the company agreed to hire him.

As soon as Ballmer threatened Apple, that was the end of that story. It called off the deal, and Timmons was out of a job. 

Given Timmons’ background, he was likely set to work on Apple’s new iCloud project, which the company unveiled earlier this year. iCloud is more of an evolution of MobileMe, giving Apple device owners access to web-based storage for photos, videos and data.

This wouldn’t be the first time Microsoft has tried to block a hire at one of its competitors. The company accused former manager Matt Miszewski of taking 25,000 pages of confidential information with him when he left to join Salesforce.com to oversee government sales. He held a similar position at Microsoft.

Timmons did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft for a comment, but as of the time we published, the company was still working on a statement.

Are you a former Microsoft employee that faced something similar, or heard any stories similar to this one? We’d love to hear your story — email me at [email protected]

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