Advice on NDAs From My Son Alexander Muse

August 2nd, 2010 | tags: Board Services
by Alexander Muse

Everyone in Dallas seems to be building a mobile application and lots of these people call or email me to share their ideas with me. More than a few of these entrepreneurs ask me to sign an NDA before they are willing to ask for my feedback and/or advice. The quick answer is that I donít want to sign your NDA. Feel free to solicit free advice from me, but please quit asking me to sign a contract.

Anil Dash wrote a pretty good post titled, ďOne more time: No NDAsď. Anil points out that a lot of people feel the same way. His reasons were pretty good and worth repeating:

  • When you ask me to sign your NDA, youíre basically saying, in writing, that you donít trust me. Itís your prerogative to say that, but itís a pretty lousy context in which to ask for a favor.
  • I have to pay a lawyer to review a document without having any idea why Iím making that investment. No, I wonít ďjust sign itĒ without having a lawyer look it over, because itís a legally binding document whether a lawyer reads it or not.
  • If your ideaís that good, itís probably not that rare. I hate to be the one to point it out, but protecting your idea in general is a foolís errand ó good execution is hard to find, but good ideas are cheap.
  • I could get screwed through no fault of my own if some other random person walks up to me and blurts out the same idea that youíve had. Being exposed to the risk of a lawsuit even if I havenít done anything wrong sucks.
  • If I couldnít be trusted with your idea, youíd already know about it. There are folks who donít like me, or who are annoyed by me, but if Iíd broken somebodyís trust in regard to their work, I guarantee itíd be just about the first thing youíd find when you Google my name.
  • The biggest value I can probably offer you is that I would talk about what youíre working on. If I honor your NDA, and I meet a great investor or potential employee or valuable partner for your new venture, I wouldnít be able to tell them about it.

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