Archive for July, 2011

Internet Mecca

Jul 18 2011 Published by under jotwol

There are so many amazing places in this world, you can drink your way through Europe or hike to the top of the world (we prefer the former).

For us, at this moment, the most amazing place to be in this world is Silicon Valley. The Valley is home to almost every notable internet company on the planet, excluding Tumblr, and the atmosphere is electric. Everyone in the area works in tech or has a friend, relative or neighbor that does. It’s the only place in the world where the local Y offers classes on “How to Finance an Internet Startup” or “Programming 101” – and when they require a second language for employment, they mean a second computer language.

Google HQ and Facebook HQ are fascinating, these seemingly ordinary buildings do extraordinary things. With Facebook now estimated to have over 750 million users, 1/10 of the world’s population, FB is more relavant than ever.

Google is fun. We’ve all heard the stories of Googles fun work environment, where employees scooter around the complex, and from what we saw, it’s probably true. They have loaner bikes, which are painted in Googley colors and are free to ride. We thought about taking one, but we decided not to for two reasons (1) stealing is wrong and (2) google is probably tracking them – which is terrifying.

They also have the famous car that takes pictures of your house on display. I wonder how much action this lil’ buggy has seen?

If you are ever in CA, we highly recommend checking out these behemoths of cyber space. And if you are a startup – it is a must.

Cheers! +1

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To NDA, or not to NDA

Jul 15 2011 Published by under jotwol

NDA, or nondisclosure agreements (also called confidentiality agreements) are as easy to find on the internet as Klingons at a Trek convention. The problem is, they all are terrible. They either have too much boilerplate or the wrong kind of boilerplate.

Where to Find:

The best template we have found on the internet is provided by Orrick. Orrick is a powerhouse law firm out of the Bay Area, that specializes in internet startups. On their website, they provide a “Start-up Tool Kit” that includes various forms that entrepreneurs can use at no cost.

Caveat: Remember, these forms are just that, forms. It isn’t advisable to use these if you do not understand the provisions – laymen beware!

What it Needs to Say:

We are not an authority on NDAs, but we know someone who is! The Start Up Company Lawyer is a awesome resource for legal information. Yokum, the lawyer responsible for the website, will even answer your questions, as long as they are not too technical. Here’s a link to Yokum’s article on NDAs.

When to Use:

There are many opinions on when to use a NDA. Some experts believe that they should be used sparingly while others believe you shouldn’t open your mouth until their John Hancock hits the papyrus.

Guy Kawasaki had this to say about NDAs

“[D]on’t ask any potential investor to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA), because asking them to do so will make you look clueless. Venture capitalists and angel investors are often looking at three or four similar deals, so if they sign an NDA from one company and then fund another, they expose themselves to legal action. If you find an investor who is willing to sign an just to hear your idea, you probably don’t want his or her money.

I’ve never heard of a venture capitalist or angel investor ripping off an idea—frankly, few ideas are worth stealing. Even if your idea is worth stealing, the hard part is implementing the idea, not coming up with it. Finally, continuing the dating analogy, you probably won’t get very many dates if the first thing out of your mouth is “Will you sign a prenuptial?”

Startuplawyer.com echoed these sentiments:

Asking a VC to sign a NDA is tantamount to splitting 10′s at the blackjack table. You just don’t do it. In the least, it will show that you do not understand the mechanics of how VCs operate. At worst, the VC will burn your NDA and dump your submission in the trash.

So, what should you do?

Our best advice is to research the legal aspects of the NDA and research who you are asking to sign your NDA. If you are worried about them stealing your idea, especially if you are a young startup, maybe you should reconsider working with them. Most importantly, stay positive, the research can be quit dull and it is definitely the least fun thing to do in when starting up a startup. Good luck!

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