For those following the details, this might get tiring. But for those wanting to catch up, John Battelle has done a good job covering the clawing and scratching in the wake of Google’s hiring of China expert Kai-Fu Lee away from Microsoft, which we first reported here.
First, Mark Lucovsky, an engineer at Microsoft who defected to Google in November of 2004, stated that he met with Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer that month to discuss his planned departure:
At some point in the conversation Mr. Ballmer said: ‘Just tell me it’s not Google.’ I told him it was Google. At that point, Mr. Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office. Mr. Ballmer then said: ‘Fucking Eric Schmidt is a fucking 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.’
Of course, Microsoft responded with a statement from Ballmer claiming Lucovsky’s was exaggerated (though Gillmor points out that Ballmer’s reply was essentially a press release, and not taken under oath, like Lucovsky’s statement). Next, in Microsoft’s request for preliminary injunction, Microsoft makes some claims that, if true, makes you wonder why Google would ever trust Kai-Fu Lee in the first place. Microsoft says Lee actively tried to get hired by Google, even while working at Microsoft, using his knowledge of MSFT’s competitive plans as bait, including sending confidential information over to Google.
To which, Google responds copiously. Eye-opening is this NYT piece, referring to Lee’s expressed frustration at Microsoft’s lack of traction in China. He also said Microsoft’s Bill Gates yelled at him and said that the company had been done in by the Chinese people and its government.
AP has an interesting blurb on a line from Jonathan Rosenberg, Google’s director of business development: “I all but insist that we pull out all the stops and pursue him like wolves,” Mr. Rosenberg wrote of Mr. Lee. “He is an all-star and will contribute in ways that go substantially beyond China.”