About William Carleton

Blogger, lawyer, Seattle Dude.


Angel investing: The walls come tumbling down

Today is the first day it becomes legally permissible for startups and emerging companies to advertise their offerings. Or to tweet that they are raising money. Or to generally solicit for investors at public pitch events. What’s that you say? Startups have been generally soliciting at pitch events, demo days, conference contests, for some time now?… Read More


Visual language: Stagecraft in Obama’s Google Hangout

The President may be a master of the teleprompter, but Google+ hangouts ain’t television. You can replay yesterday’s hangout with Barack Obama here, though sometimes the visual language of a video event reads louder when you freeze the frames. So here is a collage of screenshots from the Valentine’s Day Google hangout with President Obama…. Read More


Reality Check: Twitter’s patent pledge not what it seems

On Twitter’s corporate blog yesterday, the company’s engineering infrastructure VP Adam Messinger wrote that Twitter intends to implement an “Innovator’s Patent Agreement,” or “IPA,” which he characterizes as “a new way to do patent assignment that keeps control in the hands of engineers and designers.” The way Messinger explains it, Twitter is giving to the inventors it… Read More

Photo via Bigstock

Crowding out angels from startup financings?

As early as next week, we may know whether Congress will change US securities laws to permit startups to sell stock to the general public over the internet. You know how, today, companies raise money on Kickstarter by offering products, t-shirts, and other bennies? Imagine those same companies selling stock to investors over a Kickstarter-like… Read More


Why Facebook’s privacy settlement may not be a done deal

Guest Commentary: “Facebook,” observes Seattle lawyer Venkat Balasubramani, writing about that company’s proposed settlement with the FTC, “is like the stereotypical person in an abusive relationship. It doles out the punishment and people keep coming on hearing a promise that it will make things right.” Venkat wonders to what extent the proposed settlement whitewashes past… Read More


On the Scene: A Geek’s Guide to the Wall Street Occupation

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71wym2qYQdA&version=3&hl=en_US] Editor’s Note: Seattle lawyer William Carleton spent several days last week in New York’s Zuccotti Park, the nerve center of the Occupy Wall Street movement. He had two goals — better understanding how Occupy Wall Street works, and not getting arrested. He accomplished both. Continue reading for his report from the scene. I… Read More


Does the patent reform bill really eliminate red tape?

In his speech before Congress Thursday night, President Obama said, “Today you [the Congress] passed reform that will speed up the outdated patent process, so that entrepreneurs can turn a new idea into a new business as quickly as possible.” Sounds good, but is the patent reform bill really all that? Certainly the bill is… Read More


Tech Law: A new era for startup financing documents

Startup investors Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson have an interesting take on the standardization of legal documents used in angel and venture financing. It’s found in the early chapters of their new book, “Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist.” Their perspective is that the much-wished-for, much-sought-after standardization of startup financing documents… Read More


Technology Law: The Dropbox Doth Protest Too Much

Dropbox updated its terms of service last week and a firestorm of controversy ensued. Many thought Dropbox was setting itself up to take license rights in user content that went beyond what a storage service should need — as though Dropbox might be planning to monetize user content in some fashion. Dropbox responded by changing its… Read More


The Google+ rollout on Android and iPhone, compared

Guest Commentary: Since last night I’ve been trying the new Google+ social networking service on both an Android phone and an iPhone. Two very different experiences! But the service looks good on both and I think Google+ overall (it’s a desktop web experience, too) may rollout better than some expect. First I want to thank… Read More


Reading the Situation Room photo with startup eyes

Guest Commentary: Blogging Tuesday about the already famous White House photo of the Situation Room during the bin Laden operation, Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic writes: “[T]he President seems so small and peripheral to the action. He is hunched down, seated on the margins of the meeting, seemingly trying not to take up space. It… Read More

SEC chief Mary Schapiro

SEC to review rules on how startups raise money

Guest Commentary: Breathtaking, front-page news in the Wall Street Journal this morning. Securities and Exchange Commission chief Mary Schapiro has sent Representative Darrell Issa a letter stating that the SEC is looking for “ways to reduce the regulatory burdens on small business capital formation.” The Journal article suggests that rule changes could include raising the… Read More