Comments on Non-competes from Forrester Research (5 Responses)

July 17, 2009

Honorable Governor Deval Patrick

Massachusetts State House
Office of the Governor
Office of the Lt. Governor
Room 280
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Governor,

Twenty-six years ago this month I started Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) in the basement of my Cambridge apartment. IBM was my first client. Today we are more than a $200 million company with close to 1,000 employees – about half based in Massachusetts – and more than 2,500 clients around the world. We have been publicly traded for the past 13 years. We also are one of the Boston Globe 100’s Top Places To Work.

Corporate leaders outside of our state routinely tell me how unattractive Massachusetts is to do business in whether it’s due to taxes or labor laws. I disagree. I am proud to say that the Forrester brand was born in and continues to thrive based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. However, I wouldn’t start my business here today if non-compete contracts didn’t exist to protect our goodwill and intellectual property.

At Forrester, that’s all we’ve got. Nearly 400 analysts and advisors create our research and analysis and advise our clients about the impact of technology – trends, issues, products, services – on business, government, and consumers. We don’t invest in factory machinery, tools, or assembly lines; Forrester is an idea factory and we invest in people, which we are only too happy to do knowing that non-compete agreements help protect our investments. This is a realistic and practical perspective especially in today’s ultra-competitive global business environment. Now is not the time to change a practice that has supported some of the biggest brands and most successful Massachusetts companies.

You can find plenty of press coverage about why non-competes ostensibly thwart recruiting top talent to start-ups. What you don’t hear about is how non-competes ultimately help new and established companies alike to retain the talent they’ve invested in, further nurtured and who have become star employees due to their rewarding tenure and success. How can today’s start-ups hope to mature into successful firms if their top performers are easily poached? Non-competes protect all business.

If there is data that proves otherwise, I am more than willing to consider it. In 26 years, I have yet to see or hear of any empirical proof that supports the elimination of non-compete contracts. Do a search and you’ll see that all references are either anecdotal or hypothetical. Non-competes are one of the reasons businesses should start in or continue to call Massachusetts their home.

Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss further.


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George F. Colony

Chairman and CEO, Forrester Research, Inc.

My blog The Counterintuitive CEO can be found at:

My Twitter stream at:

Cc: Representative William Brownsberger

Senator Patricia D. Jehlen

Representative Lori Ehrlich

Representative Daniel E. Bosley

Lora Pellegrini Chief Advisor, Legislative Affairs

Mark Lillienthal, Director, Constituent Services

Arthur Bernard, Chief of Staff

Paul Guzzi, President and CEO, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce

Tom Hopcroft, President & CEO, Mass Tech Leadership Council

NOTE: This letter posted on behalf of the author by wb with permission.

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