Court docs: Ballmer vowed to 'kill' Google
Published: September 2, 2005, 1:07 PM PDT
By Ina Fried
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer vowed to "kill" Google in an expletitive-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.