And when you have engineers who work on self-driving cars — one of the most marketable skills in tech — bids get even fiercer. Michael Solomon, who represents freelance tech talent for 10x Management, said he's confident that recruiters have successfully poached Uber workers already.
"100 percent likely. Recruiting is cut-throat," said Schmidt, when asked if Uber is a recruiting target. "Absolutely, their engineers are getting calls. Sales and marketing probably would as well. Uber has a good reputation. They draw talent, other recruiters know that. Regardless of the field."
Retaining existing employees — and hiring new ones — may come down to one major factor: money, Solomon said.
"I think that's one of the places they are going to pay for their foibles," Solomon said. "They are going to have to entice people to get them to stay, that's the cost of doing business they way they are doing business."
And some potential employees may see tenure at the company as a black mark, given the culture there. Leslie Miley — an advocate for better diversity practices in the Valley — has said he'd be wary of hiring someone who did well in Uber's hard-driving culture.
Because some people have been terminated in connection with claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying or other violations, leaving Uber during this time period could paint one as "a hero leaving on moral ground" or a "perpetrator," Solomon said. He said that a due diligence process and "backchannel" references can usually differentiate the two.
But Brooke Schneider, an associate in the employment practice at Withers Bergman, said that Uber would be very limited in the information it could give about past employees.
"Even for those who have been dismissed for misconduct, the company wants to be careful not really to disseminate that information. It could be considered defamation," Schneider said. "The investigation should be confidential, even though recommendations became public."
Schmidt said he thinks Uber alumni are still valuable in terms of tech talent.
"I think that a lot of the ethical questions are primarily at the leadership level. Could it be a stigma? I don't think so. From an innovation standpoint, Uber is still considered a leader. The ethical stigma is tied to leadership," Schmidt said. "I do think it will create recruiting challenge for them. They are going to do their homework when choosing and employer. Some candidates will look at that. "