Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Apple's secrecy means some new, 'untrusted' employees placed on fake projects

Apple's secrecy and near paranoia over new products is well known. While you might think that the word "paranoia," is hyperbole, it turns out it's not really: Apple will at times place new employees on "fake products" until it is sure they can trust them.

Visit the FansEdge FanStore
Apple's paranoia is revealed --- or really, re-confirmed --- in the newly released book, Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired--and Secretive--Company Really Works, by Adam Lashinsky, which speaks of new employees who don't really know what they are going to work on.

"For new recruits, the secret keeping begins even before they learn which of these building they'll be working in. Despite surviving multiple rounds of rigorous interviews, many employees are hired into so-called dummy positions, roles that aren't explained in detail until after they join the company.

"The new hires have been welcomed but not yet indoctrinated and aren't necessarily to be trusted with information as sensitive as their own mission. 'They wouldn't tell me what it was,' remembered a former engineer who had been a graduate student before joining Apple. 'I knew it was related to the iPod, but not what the job was.' Others do know but won't say, a realization that hits the newbies on their first day of work at new-employee orientation."

Emphasizing even more caution on the part of Apple, a former company engineer confirmed not just that information, but more. During the Q&A portion of Lashinsky's recent talk at LinkedIn, the engineer said that new hires are even placed on fake products sometimes, during their probationary period.

"A friend of mine who's a senior engineer at Apple, he works on -- or did work on -- fake products I'm sure for the first part of his career, and interviewed for 9 months. It was intense."

The former Apple employee continued on with a question for Lashinsky, but the comment on fake products can be heard fairly close to the beginning of the video clip.

Despite its secrecy and safeguards, the last two years Apple has seen prototypes of the iPhone lost by employees, both times at bars. While the company has not commented, we wouldn't be surprised to see them implement some sort of breathalyzer app and hardware for engineers to carry (we say with tongue planted firmly in cheeek).

Watch the video of the LinkedIn interview below.

No comments: