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With rumors of an impending sale on the horizon, Palm is getting in gear to retain its top executives, according to SEC filings released on Friday.

The filing revealed that Michael Abbott, Palm’s senior VP of software and services who was critical to the development of its Web OS platform, would be leaving the company as of April 23. To prevent other key execs from following suit, the company is offering them $250,000 in cash along with stock packages.

It’s not unusual for companies to offer similar stay packages to senior team members and other valuable employees when they are up for sale, according to venture capitalist Fred Wilson. The packages will keep Palm’s senior staff around for a few more years, ensuring that whoever decides to purchase Palm won’t be faced with unexpected talent drain. While it may cost Palm shareholders in the short term, the retention packages make the company, at least in theory, more valuable to an acquirer by locking up its human capital.

Abbott’s departure is in itself a big loss for Palm. While working on the platform aspects of WebOS, Palm’s inventive new mobile operating system, he was also responsible Palm’s Mojo and Ares SDKs — tools which enabled developers to easily create WebOS applications. He’s also leaving the company the day before its Developer Day on April 24.

Palm will need to fill the gap left by Abbott soon, because its becoming increasingly obvious that Palm’s value lies not in its hardware, but in WebOS.

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