Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gov. Patrick on Non-Compete Agreements in Massachusetts

I had the chance to chat with Governor Deval Patrick for a few minutes today at Microsoft's NERD Center, toward the end of the Innovate MassTech meeting (aka the IT Collaborative Study Group Meeting.) So I asked him about non-competes.

Paul Sagan, the CEO of Akamai, had just said on stage that he is in favor of keeping non-compete agreements legal and enforceable in Massachusetts, and that he'd seen no data that says that non-competes have any effect on making us less competitive. (The best data I've seen comes from this excellent paper written by three folks at Harvard Business School.) Another CEO told me he liked the fact that employees were more loyal (or less mobile) than in California, so you didn't have to worry about constant turnover here.

Yet at the event, I also spoke with a number of people who'd either been prevented from hiring someone they wanted to hire because of Massachusetts' stance on non-competes, or who knew first-hand of someone who'd been prevented from moving from one company to another.

I asked Gov. Patrick whether the non-compete issue had shown up on his radar screen, and he said it had -- he'd heard about it here in Massachusetts and on a recent trip to California. "I don't have a stake in the status quo," he said. He'd heard arguments from individuals who have been prevented from taking jobs because of non-competes, and also from executives who feel that keeping employees from jumping to other firms in their industry helps them stay competitive. "There's not a consensus view" of whether they're a positive or negative thing in Massachusetts, he said. I suggested that larger companies would love for non-competes continue to continue to be enforceable, while many small start-ups would like to get rid of them -- and that the bigger companies have more political throw weight. The governor didn't agree that things break down so neatly between big and small.

He seemed like he's still in listening mode, willing to be persuaded: "If there's consensus in the industry [as to whether they're a good or bad thing], I'm happy to support that."

And then he went off to be pounced upon by the rest of the media mob... (see pic above)

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NH Senate Candidates Will Talk Innovation, Next Monday

This event is geared to TechNet members and students at the University of New Hampshire, but I'm told that any other interested parties are welcome on a space-available basis.

    Our Future in the Innovation Century: An Evening with U.S. Senate Candidates Jeanne Shaheen and John Sununu

    Monday, October 20th
    University of New Hampshire
    Huddleston Ballroom
    73 Main Street
    Durham, NH

    Arrive: 4:00 – 4:45 pm
    Program: 5:00 – 7:30 pm

    You are invited to participate in a unique forum on the Innovation Economy with former Governor Jeanne Shaheen and U.S. Senator John Sununu, candidates for the one of the nation’s most competitive U.S. Senate races.

    The event will feature consecutive, individualized one-hour forums focused on the issues of the economy, energy and green jobs, entrepreneurship, and economic insecurity. A centerpiece of the forums will be dialogue with UNH students and questions from New Hampshire business leaders.

    Seating is limited. To reserve your seat, please email no later than October 17th. Parking will be available in Lot C. To view the UNH parking map, see

Sununu is an MIT-trained mechanical engineer who once worked for inventor Dean Kamen; Shaheen once talked about how much she loves e-mailing on her BlueBerry (OK, this was back in 2001, but still.) In 2007, Sununu was the only New England senator to vote against lifting the Bush administration's ban on funding stem cell research. Wonder if that will come up...

Hoping this gets recorded or blogged and posted online somewhere...

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

From the 'No Mitt is Good Mitt' department...

I had a mostly off-the-record lunch chat with Cape Wind president Jim Gordon today, but one thing that was on the record (I think): Gordon's elated reaction when I mentioned that Mitt Romney had just dropped out of the Presidential race.

Romney had been a steadfast opponent of the wind farm in Nantucket Sound, and Gordon's odds of getting it built surely improve now that there's no chance of Romney ending up in the Oval Office.

(From the Globe earlier this month: "...former governor Mitt Romney maneuvered to kill the project on several occasions because of fears that the turbines would be unsightly, hurting tourism and property values.")

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Will Candidates Talk Tech Policy on November 12th in New Hampshire?

A group of New Hampshire VCs, profs, and tech industry execs have been trying to put together a forum on November 12th featuring presidential candidates from both parties. They're getting an assist from the New England office of TechNet, the technology lobbying organization.

Here's the premise:

    To govern effectively, the next President needs to have bipartisan support and have a clear vision about how to grow the Innovation Economy. This forum offers candidates the opportunity to communicate their plan to a live audience of hundreds of New Hampshire and national technology executives and University of New Hampshire students as well as to the millions of technology-interested Republican, Democratic and Independent voters in New Hampshire, California and other early states through national and local media coverage of the event

It sounds incredible, and apparently Intel chairman Craig Barrett has agreed to moderate. They have a venue, at University of New Hampshire, and an impressive group of organizers that includes venture capitalist Jesse Devitte, UNH provost Bruce Mallory, and Fred Kocher, president of the New Hampshire High Technology Council.

Only problem: no candidates are yet on the hook. At the bare minimum, organizer Ross Gittell told me last night, this event would work with one candidate from each party (in that scenario, their goal would be to get Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.)

To me, this would be one of the more interesting primary season I'm hoping it does come together.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Mass Biotech Council Picks Another Pol

The Mass Biotech Council has picked former Massachusetts State Rep Robert Coughlin as its new president. Coughlin has been serving as undersecretary of business development in the Deval Patrick administration.

Here's a quick roundup on Coughlin:

Coughlin starts in October. No word whether Mass Biotech is paying him Tom Finneran's old salary, which was $416,000.

(Photo of Coughlin courtesy of Mass Biotech Council.)

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