Browsing through the latest news about the tech industry today, I saw two separate news reports about exactly the same thing: the theft of key information about technologies vital to the strategy of tech companies moving forward. This has got me thinking about just how important the “secret sauce” of our beloved tech firms are. It also got thinking that there will always be cases like this, especially in the tech industry where information, data and technology are the ultimate weapon for success.
The first case is with a former employee of Intel which apparently stole information from the chip giant to for self-serving purposes.
According to Bloomberg, Bizwamohan Pani, a former Intel employee who worked at the Hudson, Massachusetts manufacturing plant of the chip giant, has pleaded guilty to five charges of fraud connected to his alleged theft of information about Intel’s chip manufacturing operation.
Bloomberg says that the story goes this way according to authorities. Pani, who is 36 years old and a resident of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, gave notice to Intel on May 29, 2008 that he will be leaving the company and his last day will be on June 11, 2008. He apparently asked for vacation time until June 11.
However, Pani reportedly used this vacation time to already start working at Intel rival AMD on the 2nd of June. He also allegedly did not inform Intel that he would be transferring to AMD after he resigns from his current position. Without the knowledge of Intel, Pani reportedly began downloading information from Intel’s computers before he gave notice on the 29th of May and even after his notice when he was already working for AMD.
With the prompt reporting of Intel to the authorities, the information he allegedly stole was found in his computers and in his home.
Nonetheless, it’s important to note here that authorities say that no one at AMD told Pani to take the data from Intel nor was the data Pani had used by the company in their competition with Intel. According to Intel, the information Pani took is worth about $200 to $400 million.
That’s valuable information, if I may add.
Now we have our other case. According to the South Korean Yonhap News Agency in a report on April 5, 11 people were arrested by authorities in connection to the theft of information regarding Samsung Electronics’ AMOLED technology, a technology deemed essential to the South Korean company’s tactic going forward.
According to the report, the people arrested are all current or former employees of Samsung Mobile Display, a subsidiary of the South Korean consumer electronics giant.
Furthermore, an unnamed 46-year-old former employee is said to have received about $170,000 from an unnamed South Korean tech company (a Samsung rival) in exchange for information about Samsung’s AMOLED technology. This employee could have been nursing a gripe against Samsung as he was aspiring for an executive position at Samsung Mobile Display but was not selected.
These two cases highlight just how important technologies are to our tech companies. They can make or break businesses and any information about how a rival is moving forward is deemed as gold by tech companies. However, we don’t condone dirty tactics like this. How else would innovation move forward?