updated 08:07 am EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
Apple's agents allegedly destroyed company on the way out the door
Mobile service recommendation company Hooked Media Group are claiming in a lawsuit filed in the county of Santa Clara that Apple's failed attempt to acquire it effectively ruined the company. The suit purports that one of Hooked Media's founding employees was hired by Apple, assisted the Cupertino manufacturer with a "deep tech dive" for company secrets, and destroyed records necessary for the company to do business on his way out.
According to The Recorder, the complaint alleges that one of Hooked Media's first employees, Chandraeskar Venkataraman, "capped off the scheme by leaving for Apple in the middle of the night, taking copies of Hooked Media's intellectual property with him, and deleting and/or otherwise removing computer files from Hooked Media's computer systems that were essential for Hooked Media to operate and to continue to do business with competitors of Apple, like HTC."
Venkataraman is accused of having unauthorized discussions with Apple's agent Venkat Sundaranatha. The two men had worked previously, and on Sundaranatha's orders, Venkataraman stood in the way of acquisition talks with anybody but Apple.
In August 2013, Apple formally informed Hooked Media that it would not be purchasing the company, but wanted to hire the engineering team for $4.5 million instead. A month later, the complaint alleges that Apple refused to honor the terms of the deal, and started with a 30 percent "finders fee" of each engineer's salary, which then dropped to 15 percent with further "negotiations" from Apple.
In November of 2013, two Hooked Media engineers signed with Apple. Venkataraman joined Apple in December. It is unknown what role the departed employees had to do with Apple's new app discovery engine in the iOS App Store's upcoming refresh. Apple has not yet responded to the suit.