What do you think it would take to "open-source" the US tax code / process? I keep thinking, we have things like BPML to describe complex business rules, tons of different data interchange formats for it, and an open-source ecosystem. I know there's a giant human equation involved there, but could you imagine any free software being able to process taxes based on open-source workflow management? Or is it simply too big of a beast at this point?
I am not a tax expert by any means but it’s clear the tax code is far too complicated and contains too many loopholes for corporations and wealthy individuals.
Personally I tend to lean away from tax related matters and focus more on how do we create more value, better jobs and philanthropy/support to those that need it the most.
Hi Bijan. VC's are always looking for a large return usually in the tech industry. Where would you suggest someone go for funding that cannot get a 30,000x return like a tech company can? Thank you.
As my partner Andrew reminds me, the vast majority of small businesses are created without any venture capital. With all the media attention on VC backed startups, it’s easy to get seduced into thinking that you need venture capital to start a business.
But in reality the sources of capital for small companies (in order of popularity) are:
-founders personal savings (either saved or consulting on the side) -credit cards -friends & family -regional/national banks -government/foundation grants -venture capital
I would love to see crowdsourced models emerge to help get (non-tech) local businesses off the ground.
Employee non compete agreements are not enforceable and are deemed illegal in California. Yet the opposite is true in MA. They are used and enforced. And because of this they stifle innovation and terribly problematic.
Here are the issues:
1. The opposition likes the status quo because it’s a often a tool for wage suppression
2. These agreements encourage new grads to leave the state. Bright minds come and get educated at MIT. They specialize in things like speech recognitoin or robotics. There is a high probability their first job out of school won’t be their last. Knowing this, do they take a job locally where they will be locked up in a broad non compete that follows them or do they take a job in the bay area and have freedom if things don’t work out with their first employer.
3. Non competes stifle innovation because the companies can’t hire the best talent. Silicon Valley companies hire the best people without limitation. It’s a big problem if you can’t hire the best and brightest.
4. Non competes are not the same thing as non solicitation and confidentiality agreements. I’m amazed at how often the opposition will try to bundle these altogether. That is nonsense. I’m an advocate for confidentiality and non solicitation agreements. They are enforced in California and yet allow for innovation and mobility.
5. The opposition will shout that this will hurt their business but they have been unable to suggest why silicon valley tech companies can thrive without non competes. Why do east coast VCs fund west coast startups if non competes are so harmful. The answer: non competes aren’t harmful….in fact that leads to a new point — banning non competes hurt company culture.
6. Non compete agreements hurt company culture. Imagine running a company where your employees are only at the company because they signed a non compete agreement. Every day those employees wish they were someplace else. And their employer doesn’t have to inspire them because they know the burden to leave is too high. Also managers will treat employees better if they know they can leave
7. Non competes are often vague and broad. If challenged maybe a judge will throw it out but VCs aren’t interested in dealing with litigation. We want to support new ideas not deal with courts. Boston VCs have tremendous capital under management. Much more than NYC VCs. Yet we invest mostly out of this state. We see founders all the time that want funding but we aren’t prepared to deal with legal risk so we pass on those opportunities.
8. Chilling effect. It is well known that companies like EMC will go after former employees for violating their non compete agreement. It creates a chilling effect where people are less likely to challenge it even if they want to pursue a market that EMC is weaker in or doesn’t participate in.
With respect, we need to do less to protect companies like EMC and figure out ways to create 100 new EMCs in our state.
I’ve been passionate about this issue for a long time and shared my thoughts on this blog several years back. I’m proud of our Governor and members of the state legislature that were brave enough to take a stand on this issue. Thank you.
I’m also proud of our portfolio company RunKeeper. As of this week they are no longer requiring employees to sign these agreements and past agreements are essentially being thrown out. My heartfelt respect and gratitude to the founder and CEO Jason Jacobs. I hope we see others follow Jason’s lead.
And last but certainly not least, a big shout out to Jeff Bussgang who is a partner at Flybridge. Jeff has been tirelessly advocate for open innovation and bringing an end to employee non compete agreements. Well done sir.
So now we need you to act and do your part. If you live in the state of MA, call your local rep and let them know you stand with the Governor and on the side of open innovation.
I remember the day she was born, the day she first laughed out loud, when she started walking and when she painted the walls in our living room when we looked away. Purple everywhere!
I’m so proud of this kid, who she is, how hard she works and what she cares about.
But it hit me like a ton of bricks that in 3years there is a very good chance she will be moving out and going to college.
And if she is anything like most kids this age, this is a time of becoming more independent, not less.
So the next three years will go faster than the last three.
I will kiss her on her birthday like I do every day I see her. But I’m going to do my best to enjoy the next three years with her. I know it’s not the end of our relationship but it will be an end to a chapter that I’m trying to deal with.
And in the meantime if any startups out there know how to slow down time I’m interested in hearing from you :)
Folks that join an early stage company or invest in early stage companies are both drawn to the same thing: an idea that is so compelling along with a founder/founders that are equally or even more compelling.
But here’s the thing: the very best founders aren’t normal, not by a country mile. They are creative, ambitious, and likely crazy. It’s not that they have a high tolerance for risk, it’s just that they can’t imagine the alternative.
At the same time we are drawn to these folks we (employees and investors) expect these very same founders to become or act in a way that isn’t who they are. And in most cases, thankfully so.
Board members can fall prey to this trap. They see a successful CEO in another portfolio company and they want (expect) the other CEO to replicate that behavior almost exactly. But forcing the founder to do things they aren’t is a recipe for a very unhappy/frustrated leader which does more damage than previously anticipated.
Life isn’t perfect and no human is perfect either. The question is does the founder’s greatness exceed some of the human flaws. You can’t have it all.
It is true, if you are going to scale as a founder/CEO you need to grow and improve your leadership skills. But at the same time, it’s our responsibility (team and boards) to avoid breaking the bronco.
We need to provide feedback and help supplement/support the CEO but not dilute or nuke the natural gifts that helped create the company in the first place.
“Becoming a parent is difficult to talk and write about, not because the words are hard to find (though they are), but because when you find them, they feel too intimate to share. The smells and sounds and stirrings of the heart are individual and holy. There’s a sense in which the universal experience is yours alone when the opposite is actually true. You hesitate to say anything at all, as if staying quiet better preserves the miracle.”—rose & crown
“If you me and Brendan [Lewis] all go to Google Maps and search for dinner or food, we’re all going to get the same results. That’s insane. It should be different based upon who you are, what you’ve done, your relationship to the place and what you were doing yesterday and what you’re supposed to be doing 3 hours from now.”—Foursquare CEO: How We’ll Tell You Where To Eat And What To Order – ReadWrite
I was recently at a tech conference and there were a number of interesting speakers.
One of my favorite sessions was hearing Marissa Mayer, CEO at Yahoo talk about her challenges and progress at Yahoo. It was fascinating and I left with even more respect for her than I had previously.
At one point the host asked Marissa about the Tumblr acquisition. In her response, Marissa made a point to highlight the positive nature of Tumblr the product and Tumblr the company.
The product is positive and not by accident. It is a result of a lot of hard work and a commitment to keeping it that way. Your follower count isn’t public, Tumblr ask questions start out as private, the private messaging system is called Fan Mail, commenting is turned off by default along with a whole host of details that you don’t see. (eg their terms of service is written in plain speak along with humor). They treat their users with respect.
And the product is positive because that is how the company behaves internally and externally. With respect and positivity.
Tumblr shows us that you can build a place that is both anonymous and positive. That combination is much harder than it looks.
I’m so happy that Marissa pointed that out. It is a testimony to David and the team that work there every day.
The other day someone asked me if I regret supporting the sale of Tumblr to Yahoo last year. Time will tell if that was a smart decision or not, but I can tell you with certainty I miss being part of that special company.
“The antidote I’ve found for this is to write for only two people. First, write for yourself, both your present self whose thinking will be clarified by distilling an idea through writing and editing, and your future self who will be able to look back on these words and be reminded of the context in which they were written.”—The Intrinsic Value of Blogging | Matt Mullenweg