Does your employment contract include a non-compete clause?

I’ve started hearing of some companies with the chutzpah to require a two-year non-compete clause in the employment contract. That’s nuts. What am I supposed to do? Go two years without a job? Go back to graduate school? Some of these companies have such grandiose/paranoid ideas of who their competitors are that they consider everyone a competitor.

I loathe these things (see my earlier story on the topic), so Fog Creek will never have a non-compete clause. When I mentioned this to a lawyer who works with a lot of high tech startups, this is what he said: “We’re trying to get all the employers to put them in. Provide a united front. So that employees don’t have any choice.” Who, exactly, does this benefit if everybody has the same clause?

I’ll tell you who it benefits. Me. Because I’ll hire you even if you don’t want to sign a restrictive non-compete clause that makes you scared to ever look for another job in your field.

The “Hello, World” company

Over the last four or five weeks I’ve been shocked, shocked at how much work it takes just to create a company that doesn’t do anything.

Payroll, incorporation, certificate of good standing, Federal EIN, Authorization to do Business, Workman’s Compensation, liability insurance, health insurance, business checking account, I-9 forms, W-4 forms, SS-4 forms, Payroll Direct Deposit, domain name registration, trademark search, …

Oh, wait, I forgot. Articles of incorporation, shareholders resolutions, election of the board of directors, by-laws, founders’ agreements, flounder agreement, baked flounder and spam, halibut and spam, plain spam, spam spam eggs and spam, and spam spam spam spam spam spam bacon spam and spam.

About the author.

In 2000 I co-founded Fog Creek Software, where we created lots of cool things like the FogBugz bug tracker, Trello, and Glitch. I also worked with Jeff Atwood to create Stack Overflow and served as CEO of Stack Overflow from 2010-2019. Today I serve as the chairman of the board for Stack Overflow, Glitch, and HASH.