Amazon tries to poach Microsoft staff

The retail giant has placed recruitment posters right outside Microsoft's campus.

by Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 10 Oct 2013

The world of tech is a dirty one. Any company trying to play fair in the great war for engineering talent stands to lose out on the best technology skills out there – well, at least that’s what you’d think if you paid attention to the tactics used by technology’s largest companies.
Amazon is the latest tech behemoth to succumb to sneaky manoeuvres. It is trying to lure Microsoft’s cloud employees to join its forces while they are on their way to and from work.
Business Insider has published images from the Overlake Transit Centre, Seattle, where Microsoft’s employees catch the shuttle bus to and from their campus in Redmond, just outside of Seattle.
According to reports, Microsoft usually buys up the ad space – but this month Amazon has reached into its pockets and bought numerous parts of the advertising real estate around the bus stop.

It’s a genius move; imagine Microsoft staff waiting for the shuttle bus to take them to their office outside of Seattle, when they see an ad offering them work in Seattle. That’s a bus journey they wouldn’t have to take every day and as winter approaches, who would argue with a shorter commute?
Microsoft has seen this all before, though. It has been the target of headhunting campaigns by rivals plenty of times before. Most notably by Huddle, the London-based content collaboration platform.
In July 2012, Microsoft bought collaboration startup Yammer. Upon hearing this news, and knowing the UK office of Yammer was just down the road, the Huddle crew decided to do some guerrilla recruiting work. It parked an advertising van right outside its windows saying, ‘Don’t want to work for Microsoft? Come and join our band.’

It’s unlikely Microsoft was surprised by this move, Huddle had already had a crack at the computing giant just over six months earlier when it hired a marching band to storm past its SharePoint conference in California wearing Huddle t-shirts. Now that’s one effective way to get attention.

But before you start feeling sorry for ‘butter-wouldn’t-melt’ Microsoft, it is by no means an innocent party. In 2011, Bill Gates’ crew went on a skill stealing rampage, trying to poach top talent from not one, not two but three of its rivals. The canny computer geeks at Microsoft created a bacon stand, and started handing out free, and by all accounts delicious, bacon in packs saying ‘Wake up and smell the future’.

Microsoft has also been accused of systematically trying to attract Apple’s retail staff to come and work in its store by offering them more money. Who needs recruitment agencies when there’s an Apple Store ten paces down the street eh?

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