EMC talks about non-competes

I talked to Mass High Tech last week about non-competes and our efforts at the Alliance for Open Competition to get rid of them. I’m also happy that Michael Greeley from IDG Ventures recently added his name to the list of supporters. The article came out on Friday.

Putting aside the incredibly dorky photo they took of me (can’t believe I agreed to that), EMC has a quote in that article.

It’s becoming an interesting pattern. I talk about getting rid of these non-competes and EMC is always the keeper of the status quo.

I wonder if other big corporations are unwilling to talk about this topic publicly because EMC is always the party being quoted. It’s probably because they are one of the biggest companies in this state.

Patrick Cooley, a spokesman for Hopkinton-based EMC Corp., said “most U.S. employees” sign a noncompete as part of their larger employment agreement.

Well, I have two thoughts in response.

First, just because a lot of companies have this clause doesn’t mean it’s right. There are plenty of laws in our history books that were considered proper in their day that we no longer tolerate.

And second, I wish that someone would push & follow up with EMC to ask why they feel they need this clause when California tech companies have thrived without them.

That’s the question they should answer and discuss.

I do like Nancy Edwards Cronin’s view when she says in the article,

“If these companies are focused too heavily on attrition and heavy-handed control of the intellectual capital leaving, they very well may not be properly encouraging innovation” themselves, Cronin said.

That’s exactly right. In my mind this means you should create the best environment possible and one that fosters innovation. Your employees should work at your company because they want to work there – not because they have to.