Thursday, May 01, 2008

Startup Employment Agreements: What Are You People Signing?

In the current environment, where VC-led early stage deals are scarce, it can be hard to find benchmarks to help you assess employment offers you may receive. But that's no excuse for signing any darn thing an investor puts in front of you. Some of you continue to sign agreements that seem unreasonable on the assumption that certain clauses won't be enforceable down the road. This is a deeply flawed strategy, unless you live in France. But of course, if you lived in France you would not be reading this; most likely, you are off on yet another nationally-legislated holiday, n'est-ce pas?

You and your investors should share a mutual goal of designing an employment offer that will retain you for as long as the business needs you and protects your stake in the business you've created when (and if) it's time for you to leave. That's it.

So here's what we're going to do: May 26, if you're in Toronto, come on by for lunch and we'll take you through OFFERS 101 - how to draft them (if you're a start-up employer), how to negotiate them (if you're an employee), and how to blunt the impact of terms when one party won't budge. Send me a note if you're interested and I'll provide details (time, room) later.

More employment rants to follow here.