Silicon Valley swiping: Where IS the tech industry’s loyalty?

My mother, a dentist, treats her employees – a grand headcount of three – according to the following mantra: “Train them so they CAN leave, treat them so they don’t want to.” As it happens, it seems that Google, Microsoft et al could have taken a leaf out of her book.

Silicon Valley swiping: Where IS the tech industry’s loyalty?

A new study (infographic below) from technology recruitment experts Talentful has shown how the biggest names in tech resort to poaching employees from rival firms. Rather than training new recruits from scratch, tech giants are showing a propensity to pilfer workers from competitors, who bring with them a wealth of new knowledge, insight and, perhaps most importantly, networks.

Indeed, one Talentful representative has testified to the reality of the domino effect, saying, “There’s a huge amount of staff trading between companies, and every time one company hires a staff member from another, they’re not just bringing in that person – they’re bringing in their whole network. People like to work with familiar teams who know the way they work, and they end up bringing their colleagues with them.”

Worst on the list of offenders was Google, where a whopping 12,798 employees came from other big tech companies. 4,151 of those poached had come from Microsoft, whose efforts to counter this by stealing Google’s employees paled in comparison, coming in at 896, less than a quarter of what they’d lost to Google.


There was fluidity between Amazon and eBay which seemed relatively courteous, with Amazon surrendering 152 workers to eBay, and taking 218 in return. No mass exodus or influx there, then. Meanwhile over at Apple, of all employees nabbed, the greatest resource pool was Microsoft. Makes sense, what with the pair’s long history of rivalry. IBM and Intel proved secondary sources of talent, with Apple showing a predilection for poaching from those companies too. IBM weren’t just losing out to Apple, though, seeing 2,302 employees jump ship to competitor Dell. And whilst IBM have a higher staff count than Dell overall, they managed to entice a relatively paltry 1,753 employees from their main rival.

Even social media went anti-social, with Facebook swiping talent from Twitter and Linkedin. Ironically, despite its ethos of sharing, Airbnb held back from the inter-firm-recruitment, taking the fewest employees from their rivals. Whilst Airbnb took a not-too-negligible 261 members of the Google team, Uber, not to be outdone, stole nearly 600. So despite all its foibles, the home sharing platform emerged as the shrinking violet of what appeared to be a fairly lecherous hunting ground.

The study was conducted using Linkedin – itself a Microsoft acquisition – to discover the total current number of employees for each company. The search results were then filtered by ‘past company’  to ascertain how many of each group of employees used to work for other tech rivals. The results showed that many of the employees were long-established tech-insiders, with CVs disclosing details of their inter-firm treachery.

So a message to those vying for careers at Google: unless your CV reads like a survey of some of the highest-grossing firms in tech, I’d check those dreams of snack rooms and Silicon Valley sunshine. But at least you won’t have to answer some truly ludicrous interview questions.


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