My name is Paul English, and I’m currently the CEO of the startup fund Blade and was previously the CTO and Cofounder of KAYAK. I believe that noncompetes are a sickness to an economy that is trying to create a spirit of innovation.
Innovation is defined by challenging old ideas, finding ways to invent revolutionary products that can dramatically reduce costs or which can simply add delight to the users of those new products.
If you create a culture where engineers must sign noncompetes in order to work, you are creating a culture where that engineer must bow down to some bureaucracy as to whether the new ideas are worth pursuing, and how those ideas should be pursued.
I’ve worked in the software industry for over 20 years, and I can tell you that the innovation climate in California and Massachusetts is quite different. In California, where there are no noncompetes, engineers know that the best ideas win. They are driven to do whatever is necessary to bring the best products to market, even when that means creating new companies to challenge prior employers. In Massachusetts, engineers are taught that the corporation is in charge of the future.
When I hear companies like EMC whine about the thought of their employees leaving to create better products for customers, it makes me sad. EMC’s accusations that their employees will steal confidential information are a distraction. That risk is already manageable through the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which the Governor proposes we adopt. I think the real reason that big companies fear their employees leaving is that they can’t handle the competition.
Let’s cultivate work environments that encourage rather than prohibiting innovation. Let’s clear the way for new companies, more jobs, and a stronger state economy.
CEO, Blade LLC