The Papermaster chronicles: An Apple vs. IBM timeline

November 8, 2008, 11:37 AM UTC

Steve Jobs’ high-profile raid on IBM’s managerial ranks hit a snag on Friday.

A judge in White Plains, N.Y., ordered Mark Papermaster — IBM’s (IBM) former top microprocessor executive and Apple’s (AAPL) newest senior VP — to immediately stop working for Jobs.

It’s the latest chapter in a bi-coastal drama that pits one of the world’s largest and most established technology companies against one of the brashest. Here’s a timeline:

  • January 2008: Robert Mansfield, Apple’s VP for computer hardware development, includes Papermaster’s name in a short list of possible hires. The two were classmates at the University of Texas at Ausin and both worked at IBM.
  • February 2008: Papermaster is invited to Cupertino to meet Jobs and discuss an unnamed “senior leadership position” involving product development in consumer electronics.
  • A few weeks later, Apple calls to say the senior leadership position is no longer open and offers him a less senior position in laptop design. He declines.
  • April 2008: Apple acquires P.A. Semi (formerly Palo Alto Semiconductor), a maker of power-efficient processors based on IBM’s “Power” architecture.
  • September 2008: Papermaster, whom IBM in court papers describes as the company’s “top expert in ‘Power’ architecture and technology” [PDF], gets another call from Apple. Steve Jobs wants to talk to him.
  • Oct. 7: Papermaster meets with Jobs, Tony Fadell (head of the iPod and iPhone division), and others. He’s told that Fadell is leaving, and that Jobs is looking to replace him. The next day, Papermaster meets with Fadell’s team.
  • Friday Oct 10: Jobs makes Papermaster an offer he can’t refuse — a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to head the iPod and iPhone division.
  • Monday Oct. 13: Papermaster informs his superiors at IBM that he intends to accept the job. They tell him they suspect Apple’s interest in him has something to do with P.A. Semi.
  • Monday Oct. 20: IBM offers Papermaster a “substantial increase” to persuade him to stay.
  • During the same conversation, IBM reminds Papermaster that he has signed an agreement that bars him from working for an IBM competitor for one year. [PDF] It offers Papermaster a year’s salary if he will respect the agreement. Papermaster says he needs time to think it over.
  • Tuesday Oct. 21: Papermaster submits his resignation the next day. He is scheduled to leave the company at week’s end and start working for Apple in November.
  • Wednesday Oct. 22: IBM files a 10-page complaint in the Southern District of New York to prevent Papermaster, “who is in the possession of significant and highly-confidential IBM trade secrets and know-how” from accepting an executive position with Apple. IBM describes Apple as a competitor that is trying to expand its presence in the markets for servers and chips for handheld devices.
  • Tuesday Nov. 4: After the Wall St. Journal breaks the story, Apple issues a press release announcing that Papermaster had been named senior VP of devices hardware engineering to lead the iPod and iPhone division, the job formerly held by Tony Fadell (see here). Neither chips nor servers are mentioned.
  • Thursday Nov. 6: Papermaster files court papers arguing that Apple and IBM are in totally different businesses — one focused on high-performance business systems, the other on consumer-oriented hardware and related products. [PDF]

  • Friday Nov. 7: Robert Cringely publishes a column echoing the conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley — that Papermaster’s position as head of the iPod and iPhone division is a subterfuge, a “placeholder” until his noncompete year is up and he can take the job for which he was really hired: “to lead Apple’s PA Semi acquisition and create a new family of scalable processors optimized for Snow Leopard and beyond.”
  • Later that afternoon: Federal District Judge Kenneth Karas in White Plains grants IBM a preliminary injunction, ordering Mark Papermaster to “immediately cease his employment with Apple Inc. until further order of this court.” [PDF] IBM PR expresses satisfaction. Apple PR expresses confidence that Papermaster “will be able to ultimately join Apple when the dust settles.” (link) Papermaster cannot be reached.

Papermaster’s lawyers have until Tuesday Nov. 11 to submit objections. A hearing is set for November 18.

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.