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Sitemap Sep-Archive-05 Microsoft CEO Vowed to 'Bury' Google, Filing Says

Microsoft CEO Vowed to 'Bury' Google, Filing Says  
Flinging obscenities and furniture, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer pledged to "kill" Google and "bury" its leader when he learned an employee was jumping to that company, according to documents filed in a lawsuit that reflects the deep rivalry between the firms.

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, 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. During the conversation, Mr. Ballmer said: Just tell me it is 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.

The account by the former employee, which Ballmer disputes as a "gross exaggeration," was submitted by Google in Seattle's King County Superior Court as part of the most recent exchanges in a dispute over the search company's effort to hire a former Microsoft executive, Kai-Fu Lee.

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 its brief, Microsoft alleged that Lee sent confidential documents about the company's China strategy to Google a month before he was hired. Microsoft says it needs to protect confidential information by enforcing an employment agreement signed by Lee, a former vice president there, before Google hired him away in May. 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.

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 to be held 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 the hearing.

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.

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.

Meanwhile, in separate court documents also made public, 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.

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.”

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