Former IBMer Blocked from Taking Job at Apple
November 10, 2008 Alex Woodie
A Federal Court judge on Friday granted a temporary injunction preventing Mark Papermaster, the former IBM executive who helped build the Power processor architecture, from joining Apple, where he had taken a job leading the hardware engineering teams working on the iPhone and the iPod.
IBM filed a lawsuit against Papermaster in late October to prevent him from joining Apple, which it claimed would violate the non-compete clause Papermaster signed in 2006. As its “top expert” on the Power architecture, head of the blade server unit, and a member of an elite group of IBMers that set strategic goals for the company, IBM argued that Papermaster would put company trade secrets in jeopardy if he worked for Apple.
Before leaving IBM, Papermaster discussed the job offer at Apple with his superiors at IBM, who offered to double his salary to stay with IBM, or at least to not take the job with Apple, according to IBM’s filing. In the end, Papermaster, a 26-year IBM veteran, left his job at Big Blue and headed west for the Silicon Valley computer manufacturer.
Last week Apple announced that Papermaster has been named senior vice president of devices hardware engineering, where he will lead the iPod and iPhone hardware engineering teams, and report directly to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Working on iPods and iPhones could scarcely be what IBM expected Papermaster to do at Apple. In its lawsuit, IBM cited Apple’s recent acquisition of P.A. Semi, a manufacturer of clone PowerPC processors, as evidence that Apple intended to expand its xServe server business. IBM was afraid Apple was bringing in Papermaster to help build the xServe business and compete directly with IBM. But it appears that will not be the case.
In a court declaration filed last week, Papermaster said he will have no hand in Apple’s server or semi-conductor business; his new Apple contract, in fact, prevents him from disclosing IBM secrets. He also threw cold water on the idea that he will hurt IBM through his new job building consumer gizmos at Apple, and characterized the divide between the two companies as consumer-driven versus enterprise-driven.
“My career at IBM was devoted to managing the development of high performance server technology utilized by businesses. This requires a vastly different technology than is used in the development of iPods and iPhones,” Papermaster stated in the declaration, which can be viewed here.
Papermaster also downplayed his technical expertise, and highlighted his people-management skills. “I am known to have strong technology management skills to bring together technical experts . . . ” he states. “I am not, however, myself an inventor of technology and, in fact, am listed as co-inventor (with four others) on only a single patent, which was issued more than 10 years ago.”
Papermaster’s legal team has until tomorrow to file an objection to the court injunction barring him from working at Apple. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for next Tuesday in United States District Court in the Southern District of New York.