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GM CIO Says HP Hiring Probe "Not the Best Use Our Legal System" 101

dcblogs writes "General Motors CIO Randy Mott Thursday said the automaker plans to have the 'best jobs in the IT industry' at its four 'IT Innovation Centers' in the U.S., as it announced its third one in Roswell, Ga., near Atlanta... As part of its effort to insource its IT work, GM recently hired 18 HP employees from its IT organization, who left 'en masse,' prompting HP to go to court to seek depositions from two former IT managers who left for GM. Mott, the CIO at HP before moving to GM last year, said HP's move is 'not the best use our legal system.' Mott called HP's court filing a 'fishing expedition' that 'feels very retaliatory and harassing to the individuals. I think talent will go where talent sees opportunity.' GM is building a tech staff of about 10,000. As part of it, HP is transferring over about 3,000 employees. HP is a longtime services provider for the automaker via its services unit, the former EDS."
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GM CIO Says HP Hiring Probe "Not the Best Use Our Legal System"

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  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @07:22PM (#42552517)

    overpriced products lagging behind and becoming less robust, workers leaving in droves, talent being driven off......only a matter of time. HP the has-been is circling the drain

    • by Shaman ( 1148 )


    • It's like it's 2005 all over again.

    • Not completely sure I agree. HP will most likely continue to exist and thrive.

      ...albeit as a much smaller company.

      • are you kidding 3Q worst earnings in company history, 4Q 2012 even worse.

        HP is going down

        • Well, as I said, I expect HP to become a much smaller company. And then miniscule earnings by historic standards would be acceptable considering the size they had shrunk to.

      • Shrinking, diminishing revenues, loss of key personnel, etc do not contribute to "thrive". "Exist", sure, but not "thrive". You might want to check a dictionary.

        • Yea, "exist" in terms of SCO existing... But no one would say they are thriving.

          • Reminds me of IBM's trajectory through a fair portion of the last decade, they ended up finding stable footing, just in a completely different space than they were before they fell down so hard: As a leading outsourcing contractor. They'll gladly give you overpriced contractors of any sort you want; except North American. They make good money in this practice no less, and have started growing again. HP I suspect will find a corner of it's company that has remained profitable regardless of the shitstorm it's
      • To paraphrase Spinal Tap: Their customer base is becoming more selective.
    • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @08:17PM (#42552925) Homepage

      It's like they're trying to shoot themselves in the foot. They are having trouble attracting and retaining talent? So they sue their former employees? Who would want to work for a company that does that? Do they think they can keep their current employees from leaving using fear? Disgusting.

      • ...keep missing and hitting own face for some reason. Stupid gun!"
      • Well, the thinking goes, if you sue the talent for leaving, then in the future, the talent will be too afraid to leave; thus, you retain the talent, through the use of fear, and don't spend any extra money (the other way of retaining talent), which is a good thing, because that talent is overpriced anyway...they need to get with the real world, and realize that the days of paying high five-figures or even six-figures jobs are over, especially when the mid-level manager over them (who has a MBA, and spends h

        • if you sue the talent for leaving, then in the future, the talent will be too afraid to leave; thus, you retain the talent, through the use of fear, and don't spend any extra money (the other way of retaining talent)

          One of the other ways. Treating them well helps too (and doesn't necessarily cost money).

          Otherwise, I'm with you 100%. I thought they'd banned indentured servitude?

    • HP layoffs (not all layoffs, really, but also including early retirement offers accepted and attrition without replacement) total over 120,000 for the past decade (includes the 29,000 in the latest round announced last Spring and increased by 2,000 in September, but not all yet realized). The issue with the workers jumping to GM is simply whether GM violated the contract. If those employees had gone, en masse, someplace else, HP would not have grounds to question it. From my point of view, the employees in

      • by WaywardGeek ( 1480513 ) on Friday January 11, 2013 @02:14AM (#42555187) Journal

        I worked for HP for a year. I found out that David Packard was the soul of HP. He retired before I hired on, which explains why things sucked more each day. I was at the Cupertino site in the quake of 89, and shortly after I quit, David came back for a while, and things got good again, or so I hear. Then he retired for the last time, and we've had stupid people running HP ever since.

        So, the current stupid people running the previously great HP feel like violating California law once again and suing a company that hires HP's suffering workers away. One of the reasons Silicon Valley did so well is due to the wisdom of the California law makers. Now I have to go throw up. "wisdom of the California law makers"... that's sure to result in barf everywhere. However, it's true in this case. They made it illegal to restrict a person from freely seeking employment. Restrictions that a-holes nation wide have passed as law allow companies to restrict a person's future employment without compensation. That's where California law differs. If your old boss wants a non-compete, the company actually has to pay you for it. If they simply say "all our employees have non-competes", then it doesn't hold up.

        One result of this was people left stupid jobs in droves and formed new companies. It was not only good, but totally awesome for everyone. I haven't read TFA, but I assume it's some non-California office suing in a typical screw-you state where workers right to work is trampled on. If it's filed in California, it will go nowhere.

    • by tqk ( 413719 )

      overpriced products lagging behind and becoming less robust, workers leaving in droves, talent being driven off ...

      You forgot to mention their penchant for burning through [mb]illions on seemingly ineffectual CEO after CEO.

      • Oh wow - you've forgotten all the lessons taught to us by current economists and management elite. You've GOT to pay those failure CEO's those millions and billions! How else can you attract quality failure CEO'S?

        Come on, man, get with the program! This isn't the early 1900's where people were rewarded for success. Today, you are only rewarded for being a yes man, or for nepotism, or for destroying a company.

      • Indeed. Were I chairman of MS, HP, or AMD, I'd be looking at the summary executions of the CxOs who ran my companies. I mean, we're making business history here with the sheer number of large companies seemingly capsizing through ineptitude.

        • by tqk ( 413719 )

          Were I chairman of MS, HP, or AMD, I'd be looking at the summary executions of the CxOs who ran my companies.

          MS & HP, yes. I don't agree about AMD. I don't know (or much care) about how the company/stocks are performing, but I swear by their products and they won their suit against Intel (as they should). I've no complaints about AMD. I like the AMD stuff I've owned.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Interestingly prior to his death Steve Jobs fought to have Mark Hurd reinstated [] after his ouster, arguing that a strong HP was fundamental to Silicon Valley and that without Hurd, HP would face a death spiral.

      Alas, the board didn't agree (despite Jobs) and Jobs got to see his prediction come true.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @07:24PM (#42552527) Homepage

    GM CIO Says HP Hiring Probe "Not the Best Use Of Our Legal System"

    I was going to check the summary for mistakes but it seems to have been written by M. C. Esher. Goin' up the sideways stairs!

  • Ha (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @07:46PM (#42552697)

    These companies that don't value talent should not whine and cry foul when said talent leaves for greener pastures.

    Heads up, companies. You want talent to stay? Then stop resisting reasonable raises, deserved promotions, and piling on extra work for no reason other than you feel you can get away with it because the "economy is bad and you should feel grateful you even have a job, prole!"

    Greed is doing this to itself and I have ZERO sympathy.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      The weirder thing is that apparently there is some formal process for those 3000 HP employees to become GM employees anyway, so eighteen represents about 0.6% of those employees.
      • It's not the numbers, it's the specific employees. These were key employees in leadership positions. These are the kind of employees HP doesn't want to leave. Further, HP is afraid these employees will siphon away more of the good staff still at HP. It turns out downsizing often works this way. You tend to lose the good people and get left with the chaff.
        • They say rats desert a sinking ship, and I guess the smartest rats are first over the side.

          Of course, this can be avoided by not sailing into rocks and shit.

    • by tqk ( 413719 )

      These companies that don't value talent should not whine and cry foul when said talent leaves for greener pastures.

      Well, yeah. They're peed by losing said talent. These people know how to do things, and losing them is a loss. Alternatively, this is an Imaginary Property pissing match. That's my guess. What're they taking with them? The keys to the (dieing) kingdom?

  • by The Archon V2.0 ( 782634 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @07:47PM (#42552701)
    ... then I think that they deserve to do a little bit of poaching, seeing as EDS's motto while I was there was "How can we screw you while staying within the bounds of our contract today?"
  • HP is pretty much a sinking ship, and they keep firing torpedoes at themselves... why would anyone stay if they can work elsewhere

    • Indeed. The whole razor-blade model with the printer ink business...I hope no one thought that would actually last long term.

      The market is always changing. It does that because it's made up of living beings. As such, it's best to always prepare for a potential siege.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @07:56PM (#42552771)

    Each company seems to be valuing employees as assets . . . instead of liabilities.

    Usually companies only sue each other over patents, not over people.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      I think that the real issue is if HP tries to enforce some kind of no-compete against these specific employees or not, and given the nature of the apparent transition, if such a no-compete is even a valid argument when such a large division of employees are moving.
    • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @08:18PM (#42552945) Journal

      At first I was inclined to agree, but it's also possible that this is more like a divorce, where HP wants the employees back only because GM wants them.

      • I favor it being company paranoia. See, from HP's view, they've been hemorrhaging money for a long period of time; they seem to be getting the worst of every deal, and all of their ventures seem to be ending in failure; after a while of this, the mind enters a dark phase, when it begins entertaining unnatural thoughts; Why? Because it's trying to learn, adapt, cope, understand why it is continually failing; and one of the things you learn from school, is that sometimes there are people, acting in unison, ag

    • by tqk ( 413719 )

      Each company seems to be valuing employees as assets . . . instead of liabilities.

      That is one of the stupidest things I've seen in a while. You must be an accountant, or an MBA.

  • Outsourcing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Loopy ( 41728 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @08:00PM (#42552811) Journal

    Considering how HP has been shedding business groups and teams to China, India and Dell after upper management screwed with their unit managers, I can't believe anyone thinks these people are surprised the rats are fleeing the ship. If HP wants outsourced, bottom-dollar employee costs, they're gonna end up with outsourced, bottom-dollar employees. And when you fuck over people who were saving the company millions of dollars per year and were almost universally respected by colleagues and appreciated by their direct reports, it's no wonder those teams feel marginalized and like they're next of the potential chopping block. 12 straight years of layoffs/outsourcing takes a toll on the best of us.

  • "non compete" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mbaGeek ( 1219224 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @08:01PM (#42552815) Homepage

    Mr. Mott doesn't make a very convincing defense. Sounds like "Yeah, we did what we are accused of - but so what"

    this is probably a very simple case - assuming HP made their employees sign some form of "non compete" or other employment agreement/contract, but proving collusion or conspiracy and getting damages is going to be hard for HP. Sure, the employees in question were free to "'resign en masse and without notice' but were probably contractually limited from going to work directly with GM - (which is why HP wants to talk to the people involved).

    my IANAL opinion is that no matter how this plays out, HP looks bad and "loses."

    • by SQLGuru ( 980662 )

      Honestly, Randy Mott could have had a personal relationship with all of these people. His CIO stints went include Walmart, Dell, HP, and now GM. He took people with him from Walmart to Dell. He took people with him from Dell to HP. Why wouldn't he take people with him from HP to GM?

      Besides, GM is actually offering really nice packages (including a free car and gas paid for) to those in Austin working for GM.

      [Disclaimer: I was at Dell when Mott came from Walmart and when he left for HP. I have friends a

      • The legal question isn't "is this a common practice" but what type of contract HP had with the employees.

        Years ago I was an "on site tech guy" for a small tech firm (fixing IBM PC/XTs and PS/2s - good times), they asked me to sign a "non compete" agreement which basically said if I stole their customer away that I'd have to pay damages equal to the value of the contract. I'd be surprised if HP didn't have some such agreement with their employees (it is expensive to find talent - and it sounds like these w

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          and is that contract legal.

        • by SQLGuru ( 980662 )

          In Texas, it's an at-will state. There was some weird thing where if he had moved to California they could have gone after him, but he kept offices in Texas to get past the loophole. His office is in Austin for GM.....probably for a similar reason.

      • by tqk ( 413719 )

        He took people with him from Walmart to Dell. He took people with him from Dell to HP. Why wouldn't he take people with him from HP to GM?

        This is nitpicking, I know, but you can't "take" people. He can offer them a job, but it's up to them whether they accept. It sounds to me like Mott is one of those rare gems that people love to work for. Naturally people will want to follow him wherever he goes.

        We don't often run across managers who know what they're supposed to be doing. When we do, we stick to them like they're flypaper.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      My opinion. This is someone at HP that is responsible for answering why so many people are leaving and morale is in the tubes. Instead of looking INSIDE the company for the real answer, they are blaming it on someone else. I work at a non tech company that has an IT department of about 120 people. We had the same exact problem a few years ago. No one wanted to hear the real reason people were leaving. Exit interview comments were all saying the same thing but it was brushed off and no one believed it.

    • by jrumney ( 197329 )
      Why should the EMPLOYEES be contractually limited from going to work directly with the client? This should have been in the contract with GM if anywhere.
    • The non compete we do make people sign are about working in the same industry, or the same type of projects. Are the non compete in the US so screwed up that you can't work anywhere no matter the industry ?
  • I think talent will go where talent sees opportunity

    Which begs the question, where do the untalented people work? Obviously not for failing computer companies or near bankrupt automotive manufacturers.

    • by Miseph ( 979059 )

      I don't think anyone has ever suggested that either HP or GM was suffering because their IT departments weren't up to snuff. Why should we doubt that many of those IT workers are talented at what they do simply because the company they work for is apparently bad at doing something that is only tangentially related?

  • So the leader of the group of employees who departed HP's EDS division (to go work for GM instead as direct employees instead of as contract employees via EDS via HP, whew need a breath of air after that) wants to tell HP "hey, you're worrying to much. We've already left... Why worry about the legal implications or if we broke any contractual obligations or noncompetes or anything... Just let us do what we want!"
    tldr of that leader's rant: "We are not the droids you're looking for".
    • Arguably, this is not what HP should be focusing its attention on at the moment. It won't make the company any money worth pursuing; if anything, it'll cost HP, forcing them to divert resources away from its core, at a time when it can ill afford to.

      • Re: Arguably, this is not what HP should be focusing its attention on at the moment
        Actually, I agree with you in that. I was just pointing out that the people at the center of the controversy are often not the best or most reliable spokepersons for the concept that there is not really a controversy at all. They have a vested interest in not being blamed for what's happened. Another e.g. would be the fox and the henhouse:
        Fox speaking when caught at the henhouse "People, people... Reporters... don't we
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @09:02PM (#42553273)

    Look, I'll put up with interviews and coding tests. But if the nurse from HR comes at me with a probe, I'm leaving.

  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @09:31PM (#42553511) Homepage Journal

    All day long, HP tries to make cheaper computers than Dell and GM tries to make cheaper cars than Ford, because that's what they exist for -- to make as much money as they can. But when GM offers some HP employees (I presume) more pay, all of a sudden they want to make a federal* fucking case out of it? Fuck them.

    They've been laying off literally thousands of employees -- what the fuck is this "NO! You can't leave! Stay here until we fire you!" shit?!?!? WHO IN THEIR RIGHT GODDAMN MIND would wait around to be treated like that? If you can get a good job, go get it, because HP sure as shit doesn't have any loyalty to you. Who knows when their CEO-of-the-week is going to wake up one morning and decide to shitcan your whole division? [] Again I say: Fuck them.

    * OK, Texas, but still... "state case" isn't a catchy impression.

    • GM exists to fund UAW pensions and get bailed out by the government.

      Making competitive cars isn't part of equation anymore.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward


        I guess someone should tell this guy:

        Akerson's GM outlook cautiously bullish []

        "General Motors Co. is poised to post 12 consecutive quarters of profits and shed remaining government ownership, but Dan Akerson sounds like a CEO who needs more."

        ooops what were you saying again? get some new talking points.

        • You refer to an opinion page as proof?
          • Reality trumps all. Like Ford, GM seems to be making good use of their bail out money. When Ford went to Washington and told the committees that the interest free bail out that they received a year prior helped them get everything under control, they let GM have a nice chunk of cash, but with interest this time. Seems to be working so far. Ford is healthy, GM is healthy. Jobs are being made.

            • Ford is healthy, GM is healthy. Jobs are being made.

              You can always make jobs by throwing money at something. The question is, did you lose more jobs in the places you took the money from?

  • It's not the best use of our slashdot either but here it is. Actually, crushing that gigantic piece of crap that they call a company with the US legal system is like 8 different kinds of awesome and useful. They should go after Paypal and AOL and AT&T for whatever reason they can pull out of their ass too just to get them the hell out of here.
  • Because it's a conflict of interest to bid on a deal for a customer and then 'magically' go to work for them. It smacks of a payoff.

  • The reason that HP is so pissed about this is that GM has broken one of the cardinal unwritten rules of Big Business: Never treat your employees like they are anything other than cogs in the machine. Noisy, expensive, whiny cogs. Cogs that arrogantly ask for reasonable wages and raises, and health insurance, and 401ks. Don't they know that those things eat into the profits? They should treat their employees like liabilities to be minimized. If GM or another big company starts treating their employees

  • GM was one of the first large companies to outsource most of its IT when it divested its IT to Hughes Electronics in the 1980s. (EDS acquired Hughes; HP acquired EDS) Many other companies the did the same. Now GM is one of the first large companies to insource back these operations.

Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous