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Tesla's Arnnon Geshuri forced to quit Wikimedia board over involvement in Techtopus scandal

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on January 29, 2016

From The Techtopus Desk

Following a overwhelming vote of no confidence by Wikipedia editors, Tesla’s Vice President of Human Resources Arnnon Geshuri has stepped down from the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.

The resignation comes less than a month after Wikimedia announced his appointment.

The Wikimedia Foundation is the body that operates and provides oversight to Wikipedia. The furor over Geshuri’s appointment was due to his previous job as Senior Staffing Strategist at Google. It was while at Google, in 2007, that Geshuri infamously (and mercilessly) fired a recruiter who had made the fatal error of trying to poach an employee from Apple.

Unbeknownst to the poor fired recruiter, Apple and Google were participants in "Techtopus" the most widespread wage fixing plot in Silicon Valley history.

On hearing of the attempt to hire an Apple staffer, Steve Jobs contacted Eric Schmidt to object. Schmidt asked Geshuri for an explanation.

Geshuri responded:

Eric,

On this specific case, the sourcer who contacted this Apple employee should not have and will be terminated within the hour. We are scrubbing the sourcer’s records to ensure she did not contact anyone else.

In general, we have a very clear ‘do not call’ policy (attached) that is given to every staffing professional and I reiterate this message in ongoing communications and staffing meetings. Unfortunately, every six months or so someone makes an error in judgment, and for this type of violation we terminate their relationship with Google.

Please extend my apologies as appropriate to Steve Jobs. This was an isolated incident and we will be very careful to make sure this does not happen again.

Thanks,

Arnnon

Schmidt did indeed pass on Geshuri’s apologies to Jobs who responded with the even more infamous “smiley face” email on hearing of the recruiter’s termination.

If any of the above sounds familiar it’s likely because it was here on Pando that Mark Ames first broke the story of the email exchange, and first named Geshuri as the person responsible for the firing. And, according to Ars Technica it was that same Pando reporting that prompted Wikipedia editors to object to Geshuri joining the Wikimedia board.  

Ironically, when asked to explain why Wikimedia hadn’t flagged Geshuri’s infamous past while considering him for their board, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales blamed…. Google.

The Register quotes Wales as saying “I googled his name, I saw that he had been at Google and mentioned in connection to [the Techtopus] story, and I didn't dig deeper.”

As for other board members, the excuse is even flimsier.

Meanwhile, when fellow trustee board member Dariusz Jemielniak was asked what background research he had done, he explained, "unfortunate and silly as it may sound, it was not in top ten on Google.pl or .de / .it"

(At the time of writing, Pando’s story about Geshuri remains in the top ten results on Google.com)

Still, at least Jemielniak and Wales are pleading ignorance. Even after Geshuri’s involvement in Techtopus was revealed to the board, some members including social media guru Guy Kawasaki continued to support Geshuri and oppose the vote of no confidence.

Kawasaki, who by a gigantic coincidence has previously worked for both Google and Apple, didn’t give a reason for his vote in support of Geshuri.