I've been out in the bay area for a few days making the rounds. One of the things I encounter out here that I don't encounter in NYC is reception desk NDAs. I really hate them.
You show up to meet someone. You are greeted by the person at the reception desk. They ask you to sign a boilerplate NDA. It's so insulting. I read one yesterday and thought "there is no way I'm going to sign this." I wasn't there to discuss anything related to the Company whose offices I was visiting. I was just there to catch up with someone on general stuff going on in the angel and VC world. But I didn't want to make a scene and I wasn't going to discuss any company business anyway so I signed it.
These companies don't offer you a copy of what you signed. They don't offer you the option of meeting in a lounge where you don't enter company premises and thus don't have to sign the damn thing. They don't offer you a call to your lawyer to find out what the hell you are signing. It is just sign this or don't come into our offices.
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?
I have refused to sign these Reception Desk NDAs in the past. It is usually when I'm visiting the CEO or some other top exec. Then I don't feel so badly about making a stink. But when I'm visiting an employee who doesn't have any control over the policy, I usually just sign the thing and steam about it privately.
I'd love to hear some rationale for this behavior. It really makes no sense to me. And it's just not hospitable behavior to someone who makes the trip to come see you in your place.