September 2, 2005 1:07 PM PDT

Court docs: Ballmer vowed to 'kill' Google

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer vowed to "kill" Google in an expletive-laced, chair-throwing tirade when a senior engineer told him he was leaving the company to go work for Google, the engineer claimed in court documents made public on Friday.

The allegation, filed in Washington state court, is the latest salvo in an increasingly nasty court fight triggered when Microsoft executive Kai-Fu Lee jumped to Google in July in what Microsoft claims is a violation of a one-year, non-compete agreement.

In a sworn statement made public Friday, Mark Lucovsky, another Microsoft senior engineer who left for Google in November 2004, recounted Ballmer's angry reaction when Lucovsky told Ballmer he was going to work for the search engine company.

"At some point in the conversation, Mr. Ballmer said: 'Just tell me it's not Google,'" Lucovosky said in his statement. Lucovosky replied that he was joining Google.

"At that point, Mr. Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office," Lucovosky recounted, adding that Ballmer then launched into a tirade about Google CEO Eric Schmidt. "I'm going to f***ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to f***ing kill Google." Schmidt previously worked for Sun Microsystems and was the CEO of Novell.

Late Friday, Ballmer issued a statement disputing Lucovsky's declaration. "Mark Lucovsky's account of our conversation last November is a gross exaggeration of what actually took place," Ballmer said. "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."

The Lukovsky declaration is the latest salvo in the heated battle between Google and Microsoft over Google's hiring of Lee. Google has said Microsoft is attempting to scare its employees away from Google.

In the filing made public Friday, Google also said in the filing that if Lee is allowed to join the company before a trial he will not "work or consult in any of the technical areas identified in Microsoft's proposed preliminary injunction. Rather, pending tiral, he will open a product development center in China, and staff it with non-Microsoft personnel."

Meanwhile, in separate court documents also made public Friday, Microsoft said e-mails that Kai-Fu Lee sent to Google executives bolster its case that the researcher is seeking to violate his employment contract by taking up a position as head of the search giant's China efforts.

According to the filing, Lee sent a May 7 e-mail to Google's founder and chief executive saying that he had heard Google was opening a China office and expressing interest in discussing the matter. In the e-mail, Lee described himself as "Corporate VP at Microsoft working on areas very related to Google," Microsoft reveals in the court documents.

Microsoft also notes that, in the same e-mail, Lee linked to his corporate biography, which Google has cited as evidence that Lee's work was not directly related to the work he would do at Google.

In addition, the filing for the first time notes the size of Lee's pay package from Google. Microsoft says the search company agreed to compensation "worth in excess of $10 million, including a $2.5 million cash 'signing bonus' and another $1.5 million cash payment after one year, a package referred to internally at Google as 'unprecedented.'"

The document is part of Microsoft's argument as to why a judge should issue a preliminary injunction preventing Lee from taking a position at Google that would compete with his work at Microsoft until a trial can be held in the case. A hearing on the injunction request is planned for Tuesday in King County Superior Court in Seattle. The judge hearing the case has already granted Microsoft's request for a temporary restraining order preventing Lee from doing such work for Google until Tuesday's hearing.

Plans by Google to hire Lee sparked an immediate legal battle between the two companies, which have increasingly emerged as one another's top competitors. The search company announced on July 19 that it was hiring Lee to head a new China research center, with Microsoft immediately suing to block the move.

Google filed a countersuit in California court to invalidate the pact with Microsoft. That case has been moved to federal court in San Jose.

Microsoft's request for the injunction was filed some time ago, but only made public on Friday after both sides had an opportunity to redact confidential information.

A representative for Microsoft did not comment beyond the filing. A Google representative was not immediately available for comment. (Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with CNET News.com reporters until July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised by a previous story.)

In the latest documents, Microsoft also charges that Lee began advising Google on China recruiting and China strategy while he was still working on those issues for Microsoft.

"In early June 2005, Dr. Lee engaged in active e-mail correspondence with Google employees...regarding specific candidates that Google was considering--or candidates Dr. Lee wanted them to consider--for Google's China R&D facility," Microsoft said in the filing. "Dr. Lee gave detailed feedback and Google acted on his recommendations."

The filing cites examples of Lee's work on Microsoft's China strategy, including a white paper titled "Making it in China: strategic recommendations for Microsoft." The software maker said it was "surprised and disappointed" to learn that Lee had forwarded an edited version of that paper to Google on June 7, while he was still a Microsoft employee. The version he sent, the Windows maker said, removed the "Microsoft Confidential" notation as well as credit to other Microsoft contributors and the chapter entitled "recommendations for Microsoft."

Microsoft also said in the filing that Lee also "advised Google on the possibility of recruiting candidates in China from Microsoft" noting that Intel and Microsoft were the best opportunity to get technological leads for projects, but that recruiting from both would be difficult. Microsoft also cites an e-mail response Lee got from Google Vice President Omid Kordestani, in which the Google executive writes that "it was nice talking to you and learning about your insights into a successful approach to Google's operations in China."

53 comments

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This is a riot :)))
The bullhead (or rather, BALLhead) seems to be losing it... hahahahaha
Posted by Soliton (39 comments )
Reply Link Flag
losing it or lost it?
I don't think he ever had it. :)
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
The competition is surprisingly tough...
Microsoft vs. Google. OS company vs. web company. Old brand vs. new brand. Hmmm...
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Out of character for "Monkey Boy"?
For anyone who has observed Monkey Boy's behavior over the years, would there be any reason to *doubt* Lucovsky's account?

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ntk.net/ballmer/mirrors.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.ntk.net/ballmer/mirrors.html</a>
Posted by Eggs Ackley (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How you get the job...
Steve got the job because he was college buddies with Bill. I'll hand it to Bill Gates, he had a good plan design and an even better execution of that plan. Steve only qualified for that job out of the personal trust Bill gives him, not because of his shrewd business savvy.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft and Google really don't compete
Come on Cnet lets get the facts straight, MS and Google don't compete, this is just more media trying to pit good vs. evil. It's just like saying Oracle and Microsoft compete. Microsoft is a rather large player in Search but that's not their core business.

Lastly Google was clearly wrong in hiring Mr. Lee, and who gives a f**k if Steve Ballmer did say he's going to burry Google, throw some chairs and get a little rowdy, it's not like he's bluffing :).
Posted by (43 comments )
Reply Link Flag
But they do
Google adds search for the desktop, Google Talk (IM), Picassa (Photo Editing) just to name a few.

If they don't compete, why would Ballmer or anyone at MS care? But they do care and that is why this is news and is important.
Posted by wrwjpn (113 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft's Competitors...
They are anyone who creates software or web services and products. They embrace developers to get some ideas going, and gobble up the good ideas. Later they integrate those into their products. They would probably be at less risk of being toppled if they didn't command such a dominance over the products that run on top of their "core business".

Their Operating System is no longer the majority of their income, hasn't been for a long time. They have to keep customers at their door to grow, Microsoft will not be content staying #1, they've gotta get bigger!
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
To compete with MSFT, you only need to have an idea
This shows that no company or individual is safe from being
allowed to do as they wish, nor are they free to do, create,
innovate or be on another team, but MSFT. No Competition, that
is microsoft's only goal, whether it be windows, search, CRM,
VOIP, maps, chat, servers, DVR, online services, handhelds,
spyware, disk compression, mice, wireless gear, keyboards, web
or DB software, you name it, THEY want to take control of it. The
fact that no product, person, company, or country is SAFE from
them, is proof that their tyrannical desire to reign over all others
is the "last straw". If "Baldy" said words like that, they are
certainly admissable evidence, considering the track record this
company has in rolling over what/who they want. To make a
threat such as Ballmers did would be small news by anyone
other than from top level Managers at a company that the world
knows is hell bent on domination. There comes a point when the
predator runs out of things to consume, this should not be
allowed to be the course our technology environment takes. If a
company makes toilet paper (or windows) and the paper has
holes in it, getting sh*t, on everyone when they use it, do you
think we should let that same "paper" company enter the market
to make dollar bills, when they have shown they cannot reliably
make toilet paper? No, the company should first be shown to be
competent in buttwipers, before they are allowed to "clean up"
the economy in some parallel, or wholly different product or
market. This is a company that is wildy "out of tune" with reality,
there is no law but theirs, and after you have all the money,
whats left but to try to take ALL the power. Right now they are
sweating it, because they are being cornered on all sides by
better products, better publicity, easier and safer software, and
people who are willing to leave "them" now that they realize
"who" this company is made up of. Witness the mass exodus of
high level "softies" that cashed out of MSFT in the last 3-4 years.
Sure many took golden parachutes, stock windfalls, and some
ideas with them, but you can be sure that they were "tired" of
the tyranny, and constant aggressive, underhanded moves MSFT
has resorted to, ever since they were pegged a monopoly. Those
who left do not want to be ASSociated with an entity that has no
morals, no creativity, and such a broad based focus, that proves
they have no direction, just outwards in all areas, no matter who
else does that sector or service better. Restraint is the key word
here, too much of anything is BAD for us, and too much, MSFT,
will certainly ruin them, and the country if they are not held
accountable for these statements, actions, and thug-like
demeanors.
Posted by educateme (101 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Release the Fury!
No doubt, Google is shaping up to be a very powerful company. Yet, history shows that when Microsoft sets its sights on a major competitor, they usually prevail. With this type of rage fueling the company, itll be interesting to see if the competition grows fiercer, or more reckless. It is doubtful that any CEO trying to compete with Microsoft would welcome the full fury of Ballmer and his company.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.inaniloquent.com/PermaLink.aspx?guid=7b5225a0-9edf-41f5-bfd5-5d46abd7e4ef" target="_newWindow">http://www.inaniloquent.com/PermaLink.aspx?guid=7b5225a0-9edf-41f5-bfd5-5d46abd7e4ef</a>
Posted by William Squire (151 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft is terrifying.
Microsoft certainly is terrifying especially when comsidering the past KILLS they have made.
Posted by Stan Johnson (322 comments )
Reply Link Flag
um...
I'm sorry, but I would be very very surprised if MS can touch google at all... google is a freight train and if ms tries to stop them, I think ms just might get ran over :)

Also, their previous "kills" as you so deftly put it, weren't companies as ominous as google has become... I think google has become too much for even ms to handle... most of googles' software is already free so ms can't win by making s/w free...I think the minds of the google owners together with their rapidly growing employee base should easily be able to dodge most of anything ms throws at them.
Posted by flamewalker04 (31 comments )
Link Flag
MS losing ground
i see this is MS acting like a child throwing a tantrum because they know they are going to lose.

let's face it: google isn't the best company when it comes to dealing with people issues (google PR not talking to cnet, etc), but MS is in decline and they know it. better products are popping up all the time, sometimes for free. you better know they'll fight for anything they can get!
Posted by Dibbs (158 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ahaha!
Microsoft is going to lose???

I'm a Mac-using, Java developing, iPod wearing, Firefox browsing anti-Microsoftite myself. But to say Microsoft is losing is silly. Microsoft has many fierce competitors and is stretched a bit thin right now, yes... and we certainly HOPE they'll make some critical missteps, but they're hardly on the verge of collapse or anything.
Posted by brasten (33 comments )
Link Flag
Always has been this way...
There have always been better products coming around. This is the same with any market. McDonalds does not have a dominance in the fast food market because they are better than the other 3,000 chains out there in the product quality.

The important thing in the market is dominance. Google has gained some of that, they are the dominant search engine.

Microsoft's concern is the China market. Currently not dominated by any tech companies because it is still an emerging market. Many companies are waiting for China to explode into major consumers of products and services.

This is why both companies want to get a strong footing in the country before that happens. This seems to be exactly the work Lee was doing with Microsoft and will do with competitor Google.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Sifting through the garbage
Well, I'm sure once all the finger-pointing and antics are settled, the business of getting down to the essential issues will be focused on. This has to do with the NDA and whether the new position at Google would violate it. As much as I dislike MS, I can't blame them for being upset. However, I very much doubt, from a legal standpoint, that using bits and pieces of email is going to help their case. They jumped the gun on this one. Their lawyers should have let him work at Google for a few months, then submit their accusation of violation of the NDA agreement. That way, information regarding Google's plans in China would have to be revealed and an actual legitimate claim, if any, could be deciphered. But, MS loses on both counts. Not only will they not "know" what is being planned, but, they have the much more difficult task of trying to prove the "intent" of the established position as violating the agreement. I think that ultimately, they will loose this case because the burden of proof is so much higher and that essentially a much greater show of "overlap" between the two companies and the responsibilities of the position has to be proven. No offense to MS, but, it sounds like they were thinking more emotionally than strategically. I would seriously consider firing their lawyers over this mess. No doubt that it isn't just the software that is getting antiquated, but the thinking of their legal staff as well...
Posted by Awesomebase (134 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re-read the article...
It's not just "bits" of emails. They contend that he sent to Google information about candidates to hire that he obtained from Microsoft. They also claim he sent an edited (to remove Microsoft specific info) document that he provided to Microsoft that includes information obtained while working at Microsoft and by others who worked for Microsoft at the time.

From those few emails Microsoft will be able to prove that not only would he violate any NDA, but already has and while still working at Microsoft. Pretty stupid on Lee's part.

I'll agree that they probably jumped a little too fast, but they are bale to recover those old emails and that will make a very strong case.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
If Microsoft is so great to work for....
...then why would you leave. This act of tyrannical behavior by
Steve Ballmer fits his ebullient nature.

The realization of this whole situation with Microsoft and Google
is fairly simple. Microsoft is NOT a search engine company and
Google is not an operating system.

With web based applications on the rise there will soon be no
need for an operating system, just a web browser, or maybe a
Google Browser (the ultimate web experience)!
Posted by OneWithTech (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's too simple
Your relating the two as not the same is too simple. Microsoft does provide search engine features. Google also started to provide web email services in 2004 to match Microsoft's Hotmail service that has been running since 1996. You also pointed out the rumors of a Google browser, certainly a product that would be a direct threat to Microsoft's dominance.

I certainly think Steve has some serious issues, and may be taking Google's recruitment as a personal afront. It's also obvious if Microsoft is able to prove their evidence that Lee was feeding the "enemy" with information while working on the inside at Microsoft.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
YET...
They are direct competitors in a couple areas now, such as search and IM and email...however... Google doesn't have an O.S..... YET. If google can control the desktop and web... its not a far shot from browser to O.S... who knows maybe it will be a flavor of Linux... Gonux... LinGo...

All that to say that they are competitors, but only in a few areas, and I guarantee Google will continue to pressure Microsoft in the near and far future.
Posted by flamewalker04 (31 comments )
Link Flag
Oh so great !
I hope that this will come true soon, just web based apps with the computer staring right at the browser then you go to where ever you want to create whatever, have a subscription like cable to these special channels ...like adobe or corel and then create your document and off you go, to hell with Microsoft.
Posted by Magide (3 comments )
Link Flag
Tyrannical Behaviour?
Microsoft is a Search Engine company, and even as you said Google is not an Operating System company Microsoft is still in competition with Google.

If anything, I would like to think he did say this and did throw the chair across the room. I can believe he would. As a Microsoft fan, I am for having a CEO who loves Microsoft; throwing a chair across a room and vowing to kill Google is a love for Microsoft. Microsoft being good to work for has nothing to do with Lee going. In Microsoft he has said power, in Google, he'd have twice that. When you are so high up the food chain in a company like Microsoft or Google it is not about how good they are to work for, it is about money and power. Steve Balmer realises this, and hiring such a high ranking person from Microsoft, especially one who signed that he cannot move to a competitor, is an affront to Microsoft from Google. If I was CEO I would be pissed off too, and I probably would have thrown the chair at Lee and not across the room.

And I pointed out details on not having an operating system in the other post. You cannot just have a Web Browser. There will always have to be an Operating System with at least a Driver Layer. I am all for a Web Operating System; but to think it will be Google's is stupid.
Posted by Lord Kalthorn (86 comments )
Link Flag
How stupid could he get?
Lee uses corporate email resources to forward confidential Microsoft information to a competitor and to conduct work with that competitor directly while still working for Microsoft. I have heard of non-executives being fired for browsing Monster from company computers. From the reported evidence Microsoft is providing it sounds like they will be able to bury this guy pretty deep.

That Google would trust someone who proves to be so devious to their current employer is also astounding. Is this guy really worth all this trouble and money? Google should try to distance themselves quickly from him or risk serious penalty for the information they have already received and used while he was employed by Microsoft.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
just one thing...
does this really surprise anyone? Microsoft's dominance in the desktop is now threatened by Google, Google is luring M.S. employees... gates is pissed... no surprise there folks! If you didn't see it before... well I saw it coming :p
Posted by flamewalker04 (31 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Like MS hasn't done this themselves over the years
Microsoft is getting a bit of a dose of its own medicine. They have "poached" high and low level people from other companies (some of which were partners) over the years. Some of which did violate NDA's probably to go to the the M$ machine when it was running hot. Look at all the people MS pulled from IBM over the years (in R&#38;D and Marketing/Sales).

Turnabout is fair play. Do I condone the potential violation of the NDA, NO. This is just typical B.S. of the industry folks. Ballmer is just pissed because he is getting beat at his own game.

There is an old adage to be used here: "There is alway's someone younger, faster, and better than you waiting in the wings. So watch your back."

Jim
Posted by (35 comments )
Link Flag
Well, what do expect!
This is what happens, when you a get a monopoly to dictate terms to all! Alas, this is not unexpected, when people deem themselves to be above the law!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
xx
xx
Posted by Wayne McMichael (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hey Great!
I'll help Balmer any way I can... I hate Google.
Posted by Wayne McMichael (2 comments )
Link Flag
Wow.
I guess Google has been stepping on some toes and posing some threats. It would be interesting to see just how exactly MS can defeat/dethrone Google. Another epic event if they succeed.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This should be grounds for immediate termination!
Where is HR? This outraged form of abuse is a demonstrative form of Corporate corruption! He should be asked to resign, a new CEO placed in his position in order to nurture and empower people.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
HAHA!
HA! Nurture and empower who?? People who violate their employment contracts??

It may have been an unprofessional and emotional outburst, but lets not be silly. Microsoft employees receive some pretty world-class incentives, nurturing, and empowerment.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
You're joking, right?
Why would an HR person with a big salary and a cushy job do this? Fame? Notoriety? Can anyone even name any of the so-called corporate whistle-blowers in recent scandals? Quick - name one! Come on - they were on the cover of Time!
Posted by Pauli1967 (4 comments )
Link Flag
Dr. Lee incredibly stupid to leave an e-mail trail
What's amazing is that this $10 million dollar man thought that he could communicate with the competition (and help put nails in his own employer's coffin) while still employed at Microsoft! Incredibly dumb.
Posted by rsmith187 (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hey Ballmer....
google isnt doing anything that complex... I can
make you some visio diagrams of some beowulf
clustuers... oh Ballmer, I am so poor, you, so
rich and farout... dont let them make me spend
the winter in my car.. ... the picking and
prodding never stops.. after a while.. its pure
harrasment from these strangers
Posted by (187 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I need a job. lol
Lawsuits and temper tantrums. Havent they heard? There are some "real" problems going on in the world.
Surely, Steve could afford some anger management classes on his salary???
ha ha
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft
It is hard to believe what is happening to the tech world now. Microsoft strong arm tactics are creating a non growth in the industry. THey are unable to stop them even the government and big judges have been put under by this company. I hope someone somewhere will stop them because they are the biggest privacy offenders, spammers and debilitating company there is......well Bell is way way up there as well.
Maggie
Posted by Magide (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Empires rise and fall
Some people responding here are reading these events as warnings signs of Google's impending demise at the hands of Microsoft. Isn't it more believable that these defections are the first cracks in the MS monolith?

Many colleagues of mine have often droned on and on about how Microsoft has some type of eternal domination, has no competition and that they are a perpetual evil force in the world. But these opinsions reveal a lack of historical perspective as well as a forgetfulness regarding business cycles. They also forget that corporations are still legal fictions, no matter the size. The intellects and wills of persons, acting primarily out of self-interest, drive them, either forward or in reverse.

I have always opined that MS will be replaced OR merely superceded by an upstart of a company that markets a slicker product or brand. Google has done that. I always thought their uncluttered homepage was brilliant, unassuming and inviting like a doorway. Who can blame someone in the upper echelons on MS for wanting to try something new at a company who is picking up everything within it's reach, branding it, offering it for free to users and making tons of money?
Posted by Pauli1967 (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Such concern...
If only Ballmer had that much passion about killing bugs, I mean features, in Microsoft's software.....
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
AWESOME !!!!!!!!!!!!!
FINALLY!! - ..something I can respect Microsoft for.

Now that I know they have at least one vicious bastard over there, it almost makes me want to consider working there :)
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
New game??
This sounds like a great new game called, you guessed it, "Kill Google". Staring none other than Dancing Monkey. When the sweat shows though the blue shirt means his strength is down; kills opponents by dancing in front of them screaming "Developers, Developers, ....."; and throwing chairs of course; and so on ....
Posted by RangerGord (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Requires Directx
Yeah but it costs 500 USD to buy the game - don't worry, it'll drop in price in 3 months and only be worth $250.

And it requires DirectX 12 (installer not included, order on a CD from Microsoft for $80)

AND it requires 1024MB of VRAM - even though it's a platformer with MIDI sound. Six Xeon processors recommended and at least 4GB of DDR2 667 or faster (preferably faster)

AND it comes on six double sided DVDs, even though it only has ten minutes of replayability.

And the license is shown to you after you bought it and broke the package seal. Sorry, no refunds if you don't agree to their terms (which are rather restrictive) - arrange it with the retailer instead.

The game will take 120GB of HDD space and have three levels with up to two types of enemies and two types of attacks.

Tech support though is excellent.
Posted by SneakyWho_am_i (13 comments )
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