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Snoop Dodgers: Apple To Build Employee-Only Restaurant

A little worried about competitors overhearing your conversations? If you're Apple, then you just seek a permit from the City of Cupertino, California to build your own 21,468-square-foot, employee-only restaurant -- that's a big ass cafeteria to the rest of us -- where employees can talk above a whisper about work-related things. Pass the pepper, and the product specs!

As CNET reports:

At Tuesday's go-ahead meeting, [Dan Whisenhunt, Apple's director of real estate facilities] declared: "We like to provide a level of security so that people and employees can feel comfortable talking about their business, their research and whatever project they're engineering without fear of competition sort of overhearing their conversations."

Just don't lose another iPhone prototype in a Silicon Valley restaurant, and the company will definitely have it made.

But what if your company can't afford to build a ginormous, employee-only cafeteria to keep product talk on the down low? God knows your competitors would just love to run across you and your workmates at Baja Fresh, snarfing down its awesome fish tacos while dishing the dirt on R&D. Or sitting in an airport typing up a report in 20-point Comic Sans. Just kidding; don't use Comic Sans.

What I'm trying to say is that competitive intelligence is everywhere, with competitors snoop dogging on each other in every conceivable way, which now includes analysis of your company's overall social media usage. If that's not bad enough, the Chinese might rip off your ideas -- a top-three concern for U.S. competitive intelligence managers. Cyber thievery is the bane of modern business.

If you think competitive intelligence is a relatively new thing, however, think again. It's been going on for at least 500 years, and our ancestors didn't have the luxury of sitting on their asses scanning Twitter hash tags. The FBI has estimated that U.S. firms lose at least $250 billion annually as a result of competitive intelligence. So maybe Apple is on to something here by putting its employees on lunchtime lockdown. I hope the organic/vegan/gluten-free food is good.


  1. Chris,

    an interesting commentary on competitive intelligence (CI). However, you have intertwined too many issues into what is essentially a counter-intelligence story. You are correct that CI is all about collecting and analysing the competitive landscape; and companies would be prudent to establish sound security measures to mitigate this, just as they would be to conduct CI. But you have drawn industrial espionage, cyber threats and theft of IP into a story that is essentially about Apple plugging an internal leak from loose mouthed employees rather than a concerted external effort to penetrate or steal their R & D material and ideas, other than by sitting somewhere where Apple employees can be overheard in a public place. You raise some good points but they lack depth and verge on scaremongering with a hawkish overtone! I look forward to more debate.


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