California Sun – The Replacements

I’m going to California very early tomorrow morning. Work and fun in SF on Friday & Saturday and then golf with friends in Napa on Sunday. So I thought this song was fitting. It’s from a live show at the The Ritz in NYC, July 1987. Original version is by The Rivieras.

Double standard: Microsoft courting Yahoo employees

I just read Henry Blodget’s post about Microsoft going after Yahoo employees.

There is nothing wrong with that especially since Yahoo is having a tough time to say the least. And despite all of the challenges in front of Yahoo there are some fantastic people at that company.

Presumably Microsoft is going after great technical folks but they also need some new DNA at Microsoft when it comes to user experience, community, advertising and web entertainment.

Here is the thing though. There is a double standard going on and I really don’t like double-standards.

Microsoft and other companies in the state of Washington enforce the employee non-compete clause. California does not. So luckily those Yahoo folks that want to leave (or are being forced to leave) can join Microsoft or pursue any company for that matter.

That’s a good thing. California recognizes all the problems associated with non-competes so they aren’t enforced.

However, the reverse isn’t true. Microsoft employees cannot go whereever they want. They cannot start any company they want. That same restriction is true here in MA and NY and elsewhere.

I’ve written many times why I’m opposed to the non-compete clause because they aren’t fair, stifle innovation and are not helpful in the big picture.

But this double standard needs to be pointed out.

There are other double standards when it comes to the non-compete clause that I’ll save for a future post. For example, why do some investors force their founders & employees to sign a non-compete but that investor and future board member in your company isn’t signing a non-compete.

Something to think about.

Here’s another example: non-competes stifle innovation

A few days ago I received an email from an entrepreneur that wants to leave his current employer along with two other colleagues to start a new company. Here’s the email with the name removed:

On 1/26/08 7:19 PM, “nameremoved” wrote:

Hi Bijan:

I have been a big fan of your attempts to abolish “non-compete” agreements. Given your expertise and experience, I thought I might try to solicit your advice. A few of my colleagues and I came up with the idea to found a company in the telecom field. Within a week, we received verbal offers from multiple VCs. However, I am stuck with a non-compete with my present company while the other two colleagues have no issues as they never signed it (we all are from the same company). The non-compete is way too broad and covers the entire solar-system. However, as you know the drill, the VC’s don’t want any risks and are proposing to establish the company with only two members who did not sign it. Obviously, I will bow out and let them go forward. But, is there anything that I could do to get my non-compete waived by my present company, instead of waiting to be sued by t hem?


I asked him a few follow up questions and understood that he works for a large company, he is mid level manager and the product he wants to go build is something well beyond any product roadmap at his current employer.

But as you can see from the email above, the VCs backing the new company with his colleagues aren’t ready to take on the risk of his direct participation in the new venture.

Compare that with the story on TechCrunch today about Gokul Rajaram leaving Google to join a new startup’s board that is doing something (I would argue is) competitive with Google. That’s great for Tumri, will create new opportunities at Google for the younger guys, keep everyone competitive and focused on innnovation across the landscape. California has it exactly right.

We need to get rid of the non-compete clause here in MA, NY, WA and other states.

Please take a look at the Alliance for Open Competition website and consider joining our list of supporters.

Heroes – The Magnetic Fields

I’ve been having a ball listening to The Magnetic Fields “Distortion” lately. The guitars and vocals are just too good. This cover (not on the album) is probably going provide mixed reviews. Lauren loves David Bowie so my guess is that she will hate it. I like it but I’m not sure I would dislike anything from these guys at the moment.

Giving great presentations – just like Steve

I saw the Business Week article called “Deliver a Presentation like Steve Jobs” on Techmeme this evening. 

I was prepared to read it and hate it. 

There is only one person who can give presentations like Steve Jobs. And it’s Steve Jobs. It’s more art than science. It has to be pure and natural, not contrived.

But these tips are actually pretty good. I see lots of presentations every week. And most entrepreneurs would benefit from reading this. Give it a read.