Fighting Noncompetes, Boosting Diversity on New NEVCA Head’s Agenda
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a local environment that produces/nurtures/fosters entrepreneurs that VCs look at and say, “This is a great company; this is where we need to put our money.”
X: Dell’s acquisition of EMC could have plenty of ripple effects in the Boston area. What do you think will be the impact of that deal?
JR: While we may see jobs being cut, the end result is often a renewal of talent in the local pool and an increase in entrepreneurial activity, as these former employees spend time building on their own visions and ideas. This is where the NEVCA and our mission comes in. A more productive exercise might be to look at the situation—the loss of the state’s “pillar tech company”—and ask: “What can we learn from this?” I would say we can look around and see that there are no heirs apparent, no Massachusetts company to fill the void. With that comes opportunity—who will be the next EMC? Interestingly enough, the very company we are talking about has, under the banner of strengthening itself, engaged in a major campaign to prevent competition around it.
X: Under your predecessor, the NEVCA lobbied for the relaxation of Massachusetts noncompete laws. Is that a fight that you’ll take up again?
JR: I don’t see any other option. As an organization that takes up the fight for fundamental fairness on the question of race and gender, I believe that we must also fight for fairness to employees on an issue that transcends race and gender. And similarly to the diversity issue, it’s both a question of fairness and of pragmatism. Diverse companies fare better, and economies with freedom of employment fare better. If we are trying to ensure an environment where entrepreneurs can thrive, we have to advocate for policies that support that mission.
X: With the acquisition of EMC—one of the state’s most prominent proponents of noncompetes—do you think there’s an opening to convince legislators on Beacon Hill to change the law?
JR: We believe so.
X: What’s your take on the recent controversies surrounding DraftKings?
JR: It’s great for Massachusetts and the Boston technology scene that a company has innovated its way into the center of the national discussion on this topic. DraftKings is another example of a company that has created a technology which has completely disrupted an industry. I love that the spotlight surrounding this disruption is focused on a homegrown company whose leaders are passionate and committed to Massachusetts.