The 6 Reasons Google And YouTube Want You To Sign An NDA Before Partying

What are the essential ingredients of a great company party? Champagne, Christmas lights, mini-sliders, and apparently a festive, legally binding non-disclosure agreement to be signed by every attendee before she gets her mitts on even one glass of that sweet, sweet bubbly. All Things D’s Peter Kafka tweeted last night that he was forced to sign an NDA before entering the Google/YouTube holiday party in New York.

NDAs have been rankling even non-party-goers recently. Venture capitalist Fred Wilson, principal of Union Square Ventures, blogged last week about his annoyance at having to sign a “boilerplate NDA” at many Bay Area reception desks before even entering the premises. According to Wilson:

Google does this. LinkedIn does this. Facebook does this. I am sure many other big Internet companies do it. But when you visit News Corp, Time Warner, Goldman Sachs, WPP, Warner Music, or any other large NYC company, you never are asked to sign something like that. What do Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other large Internet companies have going on in their offices that is so different than what the big companies in NYC have going on in their offices?

So what is YouTube thinking in asking guests to sign an NDA before entering the party? After all, a few tweets, albeit boring ones, managed to escape.

  1. They’re afraid a guest will steal their ideas. Hopefully Google and YouTube are not leaving their patents lying around the office during party time, BUT WHAT IF THEY ARE?
  2. They want to seem cool. An office that won’t even let you set foot in it without getting you to promise — under penalty of prosecution — that you won’t breath a word about what you say must have something pretty awesome worth protecting. Or at least that’s what they want you think.
  3. They want to seem intimidating. Don’t even think about telling anyone about the lettuce wraps.
  4. They’ve gotten into the habit and they just can’t stop. After automatically asking even respected visitors like Wilson to sign before every single meeting, it’s hard to just shut off the “make everyone sign NDAs everywhere all the time” killer instinct.
  5. The party is going to get karaaaaazy. Was Larry Page hanging from the chandelier? Did Sergey Brin do a keg stand? Did YouTube hire David After Dentist to inhale a full canister of laughing gas and dance for the crowd? If you weren’t there, you’ll never know.
  6. They have too many lawyers than they know what to do with. Ding ding ding!

Photo: Instagram from Kafka’s Twitter account

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    • Rachel

      I wonder if part of it is to control a PR catastrophe if the party seems “too” elaborate. There were a lot of banks and other companies in the past few years that got really bad press for having over-the-top holiday parties for staff in lean times.
      This way they can spend what they want and the news outlets can’t go over every detail to enrage the public against them.