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Thu May 26 2011 23:12:27

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

By: Ina Steiner

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If you're going to recruit former colleagues but are contractually prohibited from doing so, it's best not to leave a paper trail - or these days - a social networking trail!

On the day Google announced its Google Wallet mobile payments initiative, competitor PayPal fired back - with a lawsuit against Google and two of its executives - Stephanie Tilenius and Osama Bedier, who are former PayPal and eBay employees.

In a blog post announcing the lawsuit, PayPal Senior Director of Global Communications Amanda Pires said, "sometimes the behaviors of people and competitors make legal action the only meaningful way for a company to protect one of its most valuable assets - its trade secrets."

Only hours earlier Tilenius had used social networking site Twitter to write, "Very excited about Google Wallet and Google Offers, very proud of the team!"

PayPal sued Google on Thursday for misappropriation of trade secrets; breach of contract; intentional interference with contractual relations; breach of fiduciary duty and duty of loyalty; and other allegations.

Former eBay and PayPal executive Stephanie Tilenius, who now leads Google's ecommerce division (and sits on Etsy's Board of Directors), is in the hot seat, accused of recruiting former colleague Osama Bedier, who was PayPal's Vice President of Mobile, Platform and New Ventures. Bedier left PayPal for Google in January after 8 years at PayPal.

PayPal's lawsuit alleges Tilenius agreed not to recruit employees as part of a Consulting Agreement  contract signed with eBay in October 2009 that expired on March 3, 2010.

UPDATED: From the lawsuit: "The Consulting Agreement expired on March 3, 2010. As a result of her agreements with eBay, Tilenius was obligated not to solicit eBay employees until at least March 2, 2011."

According to the lawsuit, Tilenius initiated contact with Bedier through a message on the social networking site Facebook that read, "I heard from a little birdie that you might be open to bigger and better challenges, I have a HUGE opportunity for you, would love to chat if you are interested."

The lawsuit also alleges that Bedier "began soliciting other PayPal employees with knowledge of PayPal's trade secrets to leave and join Bedier at Google."

If PayPal's allegations are true that Tilenius was contractually prohibited from recruiting eBay employees, why would she use Facebook to message Bedier?




Comments (40) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

by: Mitch

Thu May 26 23:18:32 2011

Ina asks, "If PayPal's allegations are true that Tilenius was contractually prohibited from recruiting eBay employees, why would she use Facebook to message Bedier?"

It's a no-brainer. Literally. Tilenius is not known for being the brightest bulb in SV.

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Thu May 26 23:38:40 2011

How did eBay/PayPal get access to Facebook and non-PayPal emails? Usually that's done during discovery, after a lawsuit's been filed.

Do corporations archive all web-browsing activity of employees done through company devices?

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Thu May 26 23:49:32 2011

Ina,
Yes all emails and browsing on company time is archived on any employers data base. It is very easy to do a discovery on your own time.  

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

by: Ming the Merciless

Thu May 26 23:57:27 2011

This is just too good for words, but we'll probably never read the really juicy stuff because it will settle out of court with all parties agreeing to a sealed settlement.

Ina asks, "If PayPal's allegations are true that Tilenius was contractually prohibited from recruiting eBay employees, why would she use Facebook to message Bedier?"

While Tilenius may not be and probably isn't particularly bright, it all depends on what the contract she signed says -- if she indeed signed a contract.

If she signed a contract as desribed by PayPal, this supports the hypothesis that she was canned, didn't leave ebay voluntarily, and said contract was part of her golden parachute termination agreement.

If it's a simple non compete agreement, she may be in good shape as many states (if it's a California case rather than a federal case) don't recognize the validity of non compete agreements. But it's probably more complicated.

Basing a lawsuit on internet communications is precarious as someone else may have known/hacked Tilenius's password and posted the solicitation of Osama in order to undermine Tilenius.

Determining the validity of the post would require subpeonaed documents from ISPs and corporate networks that might have been involved, and even that wouldn't be positively conclusive because someone (like Vladuz for example :-) could have hacked Tilenuis's log on passwords.

It's not as if Tilenius hasn't made any enemies along the way.

The filings of the respective corporations could be treasure trove of dirty laundry exposed.

Of course PreyPal doesn't hesitate one nanosecond to screw over sellers, but let a former employee (allegedly) screw over them, and they're in court faster than a New York minute.

Frankly, I hope both sides suffer some form of irreparable damage and lose something major.

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri May 27 00:00:31 2011

Ina asks, "Do corporations archive all web-browsing activity of employees done through company devices?"

Ina, I think it's required by law. If she did this work, she's even dumber than than I thought.

But the burden of proof would still rest with PreyPal if she denies it.

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

This user has validated their user name. by: Pete

Fri May 27 00:01:21 2011

an eBay exec once said that NO data that comes into or out of eBays servers is ever deleted


Looks like Karma is back in fashion LOL

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri May 27 00:30:15 2011

@ Pete

I'm not sure whether this would work in terms of Facebook. The PreyPal servers would show whether Osama went to the Facebook site or that someone using his corporate account log on password logged on to Facebook.

IP numbers are preserved. The identity of the person using an account cannot be ascertained to 100% certainty unless they're using fingerprint or retinal scan recognition software instead of passwords.

On the other hand, maybe the HUGE opportunity Tilenius allegedly references is a lifetime, all you eat Baskin and Robbins gift card for Osama. Or an opportunity to invest in some venture unrelated to PreyPal, ebafia, or Google.

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

by: Rich

Fri May 27 01:19:11 2011

Billion dollar companies fighting billion dollar companies and multi-millionaires breaking contracts and hiring other multi-millionaires.  This interests people here?  This article is all about money and ego but irrelevant to middle class ebay sellers. Although it might show that Paypal is worried about Google's new service. And maybe Paypal is very worried about the combo of Google and Visa both entering their field.  I heard a Visa ad for their new online payment service and it definitely had an appealing ring.  Paypal is worried about 2 monsters and now cries lawsuit.  Paypal will lose

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen

Fri May 27 01:19:18 2011

“If PayPal's allegations are true that Tilenius was contractually prohibited from recruiting eBay employees, why would she use Facebook to message Bedier?”

Hmmm, let me think about that for a moment … could it possibly be that she is as thick as is John Donahoe?

Enron / eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

by: John

Fri May 27 06:19:27 2011

I think both eBay & pp are worried.
Pp is the bilge pump keeping eBay afloat. Google and Visa are the tsunami's heading their way.

Both eBay and pp are getting a taste of their own medicine. Unscrupulous business practices placed on the shoulders of their sellers -vs- unscrupulous business ethics between companies.

Sit back and enjoy the show.....  

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

by: anyone out there

Fri May 27 06:27:04 2011

Why would Tilenius do this?????

Well after being groomed by the famous donut she no longer knows the difference between right and wrong.

She learned well from de donut.

Hopefully she loses everything she has.

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

by: ilikespaghettios

Fri May 27 06:46:00 2011

Looks like everything hinges on the date of the facebook entry, which isn't noted here.
From the info given, her non recruit contract expired in March 2010 and Bedier joined google in Jan of 2011.

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

by: Scotty

Fri May 27 07:17:41 2011

To me....this says it all:

''In a blog post announcing the lawsuit, PayPal Senior Director of Global Communications Amanda Pires said, ''sometimes the behaviors of people and competitors make legal action the only meaningful way for a company to protect one of its most valuable assets - its trade secrets.''

Thank you Ms. Paypal executive....why is this any different than a seller taking legal action against a buyer or ''would-be'' competitor that has defamed or dinged their ''stars'', therefore potentially irreparably damaging a sellers business.

I have printed all references to this comment for future use.

Oh happy days....!

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

by: John

Fri May 27 07:20:56 2011

Googles best match search engine will limit eBay results to the way way  back pages, thus effecting small sellers again. Googles not worried about this suit.

eBay and pp has opened the google Pandora box of search hurt. In the end who will it effect the most....Sh_t flows downhill.

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

by: harry

Fri May 27 08:04:58 2011

I hate spoiled thirty-something B-school brats who have everything handed to them and ruin the lives of ''lesser'' people. I hope they throw the frickin' book at her.

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Fri May 27 08:23:32 2011

@ilikespaghettios Your note made me realize I needed to clarify - the lawsuit states:

"The Consulting Agreement expired on March 3, 2010. As a result of her agreements with eBay, Tilenius was obligated not to solicit eBay employees until at least March 2, 2011."

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

by: A Natural Redhead

Fri May 27 08:54:33 2011

I wonder how restrictive the clause actually is, and how will it be interpreted?

Is it completely forbidden to say ''Hey Sam, someone I know wants to talk to you'' ..... compared to an obvious and overt ''Here's a written job-offer, Sam. Just sign here.''

I'll bet that clever lawyers can make a legal distinction between passing along a message and actually being the one to make the offer.

A gray area to be sure, but I'll bet that Google's HR legal team had already reviewed everything with a fine tooth comb, and had their strategy and possible defense all mapped out. They may have figured that the benefit was well worth the annoyance of EB/PP retaliation and lawsuits.

On the other hand, it does make them look a bit slimy.

And on the THIRD hand, there's a risk that EB/PP will end up with pie on their face as it becomes more obvious regarding their inability to retain their top key employees.

I'm not a lawyer or legal expert by any means, but it will be interesting to watch this unfold.

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

by: Here Again

Fri May 27 10:12:04 2011

When the big dinosaurs get into a fight, it is best for us smaller mammals to go find a hole to sit and watch the battle from.  In this case with lots of popcorn to enjoy the show!  It should be interesting.

Karma, baby!

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

by: Trade secrets?

Fri May 27 10:23:40 2011

Won't the success of paypal's case depend upon the similarities of the two products?
Wouldn't you think that Google would have made sure that google wallet is different enough from  paypal's service to pass the patent infringement test?

Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching   Google's Stephanie Tilenius Sued over eBay Poaching

by: Maybe PayPal is Not The Injured Party Here

Fri May 27 11:13:25 2011

I am not entirely convinced PayPal is the injured party here as the mistakes appear to be too obvious - almost intentional in nature.

With PayPal just about being the sole income in the eBay family, it is obvious eBay would stop at nothing to protect their most significant profit center. Without PayPal, this company would be in serious trouble.

eBay/PayPal could be so desperate that they might have gone as far as to send moles out to deliberately sabotage Google's competing product from within by creating a litigious issue. Maybe the plan was to put PayPal into the position of appearing aggrieved in order obtain a substantial monetary settlement/decision judicially, or to put Google in a position where their mobile payment platform gets shut down by the court.

Given the insidious tactics the company deploys against sellers, nothing they do should surprise anyone, including dirty tricks, sabotage, and well planned legal action in a desperate attempt to stop competition.

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