Tiago Costa

Internet entrepreneur and triathlete (Ironman Finisher). Founder of WayNext – digital agency and other companies. Blogging for myself, this is not the agency voice. Welcome!

Non disclosure agreements vs Ethics


Every now and then in the business world people come to you with NDA for you to sign because they are about to tell you their plans to conquer planet Earth or maybe even the entire galaxy – even if that’s only in their heads…  🙂

I have signed quite a few NDA when receiving briefings for digital projects and I recognize I have also handed them out to some people who work with us at WayNext mostly because I must enforce it in writing, since we have confidentiality clauses in contracts with most Clients.

Tonight I came across a post from Mark Suster and I really agree with this excerpt:

– You shouldn’t worry about NDAs because they’re mostly unenforceable or unprovable anyways.  Paraphrasing Fred Wilson, “you’re far better off working with somebody of high ethics with no NDA then somebody of low ethics with a signed NDA.”  Confidentiality is our business.  If we had a reputation for sharing proprietary information we wouldn’t get too many entrepreneurs knocking on our doors.

This is so true, because whenever someone becomes paranoid with confidentiality they tend to look for a safe harbor on the legals (NDA and stuff) but I think the most important thing is the ethics of the people you are dealing with – and for most of us, like agencies, where we often get product details before they hit the market, I agree we must be liable for the information we get. I also believe we don’t have a second chance to prove our ethics so we must commit to it and keep it confidential if its needed, not because it’s written on a piece of paper, but because that’s the way to earn your business partners trust.

Let me just give you a quick example to show how ethics plays a major role here. We work in a small market in Portugal for digital projects (mainly web strategy, design, development and marketing) and everybody more or less knows everybody even if they haven’t met IRL. People must keep confidential data for themselves because the market is so small that it is very easy to have friends or people you know, working for your Client’s biggest competitor at the agency across the street and still you must resist and not share any little detail when you grab a cup of coffee with them…

Author: Tiago Costa

Internet entrepreneur, Ironman Finisher and kitesurfer. Founder of WayNext – web agency and other companies. Blogging for myself, this is not the agency voice.

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