In late 2008, Apple set off a flurry of legal activity when it hired chip guru Mark Papermaster who formerly worked for IBM. IBM subsequently sued Papermaster alleging that as one of their top executives, he possessed a plethora of confidential and proprietary information that would cause irreparable harm to the company if made available to a competitor. Papermaster countersued arguing that IBM’s covenant not to compete clause, which Papermaster did in fact sign, was unenforceable to the extent that IBM’s interpretation of “competing company” would effectively leave Papermaster unable to find employment anywhere.
After some mild legal entanglement, Papermaster began work at Apple in April of 2009 after litigation between all parties had been resolved. Papermaster’s official title at Apple was ‘Senior Vice President of Devices Hardware Engineering’ where he was tasked with overseeing both the iPod and iPhone engineering teams.
But for as much effort as it took to finally start working at Apple, the honeymoon period for Papermaster in Cupertino didn’t last long. Earlier this Summer, it was reported that Papermaster had left Apple as a result of not meshing with Apple’s culture, and subsequently not earning the trust of CEO Steve Jobs. There were also reports that Papermaster’s departure was the direct result of the iPhone 4 antenna saga which resulted in a wave of bad publicity for Apple.
The Wall Street Journal noted at the time,
Mr. Papermaster had lost the confidence of Mr. Jobs months ago and hasn’t been part of the decision-making process for some time, these people said. They added that Mr. Papermaster didn’t appear to have the type of creative thinking expected at Apple and wasn’t used to Apple’s corporate culture, where even senior executives are expected to keep on top of the smallest details of their areas of responsibility and often have to handle many tasks directly, as opposed to delegating them.
But it’s hard to keep a good man down.
Cisco announced this past Friday that it had hired Papermaster as vice president of its silicon switching technology group.