Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
(c) 2005 Sydney Morning Herald
Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer vowed to "kill" internet search leader Google Inc. in an obscenity-laced tirade, and Google chased a prized Microsoft executive "like wolves," according to documents filed in an increasingly bitter legal battle between the rivals.
The allegations, filed in a Washington state court, represent the latest salvos in a showdown triggered by Google's July hiring of former Microsoft executive Kai-Fu Lee to oversee a research and development centre that Google plans to open in China. Lee started at Google the day after he resigned from Microsoft.
The tug-of-war over Lee - known for his work on computer recognition of language - has exposed the behind-the-scenes animosity that has been brewing between two of high-tech's best-known companies.
Ballmer's threat last November was recounted in a sworn declaration by a former Microsoft engineer, Mark Lucovsky, who said he met with Microsoft's chief executive 10 months ago to discuss his decision to leave the company after six years.
After learning Lucovsky was leaving to take a job at Google, Ballmer picked up his chair and hurled it across his office, according to the declaration.
Ballmer then pejoratively berated Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Lucovsky recalled.
"I'm going to f---ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again," the declaration quotes Ballmer. "I'm going to f---ing kill Google."
Before joining Google, Schmidt was a top executive at Sun Microsystems Inc. and Novell Inc., a pair of tech companies that Microsoft has previously battled.
In a statement, Ballmer described Lucovsky's recollection as a "gross exaggeration. Mark's decision to leave was disappointing and I urged him strongly to change his mind. But his characterization of that meeting is not accurate."
( Source: The Sydney Morning Herald )
Cross-posted to infojunkies.
My comments on the lawsuit are in an earlier entry here.