Judge Blocks Former Microsoft General Manager From Working For Salesforce

from the noncompetes dept

A few years ago, we covered some of the research on the impact of noncompete agreements on innovative industries. Basically, noncompetes are effectively a form of DRM on human capital. They diminish the pace of innovation in that they get in the way of idea sharing and the free flow of talent to where it can be most effective. Not surprisingly, California refuses to recognize noncompete agreements as enforceable. So, it's a bit strange to see, as pointed out on Slashdot, that a former Microsoft General Manager, Matthew Miszewski, cannot work for Salesforce.com "in a marketing role in salesforce.com's public or commercial sector anywhere in the world." It's that "anywhere in the world" part that has me scratching my head. If Miszewski moved to California, where Salesforce is based, could the Washington court actually do anything? The Slashdot post also points out Microsoft's hypocrisy on this issue, in that it's happy to restrict the "flow of talent" from its own staff, but on immigration always argues about the importance of the free flow of talent to American innovation...

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  1. icon
    Bill Bliss (profile), 20 Apr 2011 @ 10:34am

    Not signing the noncompete wouldn't have worked at Microsoft

    Obviously the "don't bother signing it" tactic works elsewhere, but it wouldn't have worked at Microsoft. As far back as 1987, when I started there, they wouldn't have let you leave the onboarding room without having signed it. They were as picky about it as they were about proof of citizenship.

    Moreover, they give you a copy of it during your exit interview to remind you of your obligation.

    During Kai-Fu Lee's lawsuit between him, Microsoft, and Google, Google definitely argued California jurisdiction but they also threw in the fact that since he was taking a job in China, Washington court rulings didn't apply there.

    Clearly neither Google nor Microsoft didn't think they had a slam-dunk case, or at least one that would be resolved quickly, because they settled. Either way there was a cloud over his ability to start his job.

    It all depends on the employee in question, the company being moved to, and Microsoft's corporate mood at the time. But I can say that as an employee in the state of Washington, it's pretty well known that your company may choose to enforce a non-compete and that it may well work.

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