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Non competes: should we really unilaterally disarm?

Mike Feinstein has a post today about the non-compete issue.

It seems that Mike believes that non-competes should ultimately go away. Hurray!

But he also brings up an issue I’ve heard several times since we put our stake in the ground. Should we really unilaterally disarm in the interim? 

The question is: should companies and investors get rid of their non-competes right now while the law still allows them in the state of MA. Won’t it put us and our companies at a disadvantage?

That is a reasonable concern.

And here are my thoughts.

-If you want to wait for the state government to make a change before you make a change that that’s okay (not exactly ideal but okay). It’s progress and we’ll take it. All of us at the Alliance for Open Competition want your support that you actually want a law that makes MA more like CA on this topic. We need all of you to be loud and proud on this point.

-But I would also contend that companies that keep this type of clause in the interim are actually going to hurt themselves and their investors over time. As one specific example, Google now has an office in Cambridge. And it’s growing. And they are hiring the smartest folks they can find. And guess what? They are not requiring their employees to sign non-compete clauses. So if you are a new MIT grad will you take a job at Google Cambridge or at EMC or another local company that requires non-competes. 

So as my friend Nabeel put it recently. Do you want to build your startup out of fear or promise?