I had a discussion today with a potential client via e-mail. They wanted my company’s services, but before they could even tell me about the project they demanded that I sign a non-disclosure agreement. I immediately told them no out of principle. Under no circumstances am I going to sign away first amendment rights to a stranger for nothing in exchange. They kept pushing about how great their idea was, so I had to come up with a more substantial response, because apparently doing something on principle wasn’t enough. A few quick google searches and I came up with this great response from Quora:
Should startups have engineers and developers sign NDAs, before scheduling the interview?
Assuming that there is a magic algorithm which guarantees the success of the project, it should be easy enough to avoid any sensitive topics even during extended interviews.
If the idea can be quickly copied by someone, just from having a frank discussion during an interview, then the idea does not have a defensible business model and will be quickly copied by fast followers anyway.
So if this is a big point of concern when even discussing superficial topics, you should consider whether this is truly the right idea.
Perfectly said. It seems like everyone who has seen The Social Network thinks that every web developer or company is out to get them. Andrew Warner also has a good blog post on the subject. Out of all his reasons, my favorite is, “It puts all the obligation on me and none on you. I have to make sure that I never reveal what you say or I’m (potentially) liable. But where’s your obligation?” The potential client kept trying to justifying reasons for me to sign the NDA. At one point he even said that I was actually protecting myself. Protecting myself from what? What a joke.