I’ve signed a few non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) – or confidentiality agreements – in my time, one quite recently.

But while I can bring to mind plenty of good deals I’ve done with people on a handshake, even a virtual handshake, I can’t recall a single good deal that has started with signing an NDA before we even talked.

Fortunately, with the last NDA I signed, I still have no real idea what the proponent actually had in mind, so I’m in no risk of letting anything slip in an unguarded moment. I.e. nothing to let slip.

What I do know is that I decided that in future I would either not sign another NDA just to have a conversation. Or if I did it would be for very compelling reasons.

Top SecretNow I discover that VCs do not sign NDAs. Hmmm, I’d wondered about that.

Rick Segal spells it out:

VC firms typically do not sign NDAs for first looks/meetings.

VC firms typically do not sign NDAs with promises not to evaluate the same or similar businesses included.

VC firms typically do not sign NDAs with 5 year no contact clauses included.

VC firms typically do not sign NDAs with promises to report any contact with competitive businesses included.

So why should I sign an NDA as a pre-requisite just to discuss a possible joint venture? No good reason, as far as I can see. Several good reasons not to.

The only exception I can think of is where a government agency requires it. In my experience, that’s not likely to arise anyway.

RIP NDA for this cat.

via Zoli Erdos and Alexander Muse

photo by spekulator

Des Walsh

Business coach and digital entrepreneur. With coach training from and its Graduate School of Coaching, and a founding member of the International Association of Coaching, Des has been coaching business owners and entrepreneurs for the past 20 years. Over the same period he has also been actively engaged in promoting the business opportunities of the digital economy. He is a certified Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) coach, and a certified specialist in social media strategy and affiliate marketing.

Similar Posts


  1. Des,

    I’m so with you on that. I’ve had to sign so many documents in the last fews years from budding entrepreneurs that I’m probably breaking three of them just typing this comment.

    No more. I have lots of business secrets in my head – if I can’t be trusted to keep the important things confidential, then they aren’t working with the right person.

    And if you need an NDA to prevent your competition from getting ahead of you, that just means that you aren’t ready to take your product to market better, faster, and cheaper.

    RIP NDA indeed.

  2. Right. Withholding information is totally against Web 2.0s’ aim to facilitate creativity, information sharing, and collaboration.

    It would be ironic to think that web 2.0 experts would be the ones to go against the concept of web 2.0 itself.

  3. The last NDA I signed, other than for my current employer, was with a large private European company. A company I love, but nonetheless one with a big legal team and one you would expect to have to sign an NDA with. Contrast this with my contacts with entrepreneurs and businesspeople in my local tech community: I’ve discussed several projects and ideas solely on trust.

    In the social web, our good name and integrity are our most valuable assets. If you become known as an untrustworthy person or as someone who blabs, your reputation will suffer and you will have only yourself to blame for it. If you respect peoples’ ideas and use discretion, your trustworthiness will grow and you’ll have only yourself to thank.

  4. I would have to disagree. The fact that it is easier to communicate with many may make an NDA even more necessary . The fact that there is ‘new’ connectivity does not mean you have to connect with everything or everyone.

    You arguably need to protect yourself even more – because if you are building IP that is part of a competitive advantage for a group of corporates – they will all make you sign NDA’s – regardless of your opinion – and they will expect you to sign NDA’s with your collaborators – however open they are.

    There is a great case for Social Networks AND as always a great case for NDA’s.

    Sometimes either or both are inappropriate:-)

    Human dishonesty has not dissappeared with social networks. Now this would be nice/-)

Comments are closed.