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WTIA President Michael Schhutzler and Techstars Seattle Managing Director Chris DeVore.

Banning non-compete agreements is a hot button issue — that much was clear in Twitter land on Tuesday morning.

As business groups and labor councils gather in Olympia to testify in favor of and against a bill that would eliminate non-compete agreements in Washington, a local venture capitalist and the leader of the Washington Technology Industry Association debated the issue on Twitter.

The bills would bring Washington state more in line with California law, preventing companies from keeping departing employees from taking similar jobs at competing companies for specified periods of time after they leave. It’s a controversial issue in the technology industry and in Washington state, where companies like Microsoft and Amazon have repeatedly used non-compete clauses in employment agreements to keep former executives and engineers from working for rivals. 

Chris DeVore, managing director at Techstars Seattle and general partner at Founders Co-op, has long believed that non-competes inhibit innovation and force entrepreneurs to move elsewhere. He jumped on Twitter today to again prove his point.

Michael Schutzler, president of the Washington Technology Industry Association, thinks that there is a legitimate concern about the effects of engineers leaving companies with specialized knowledge and then competing head-to-head with their former employers. He responded to Devore:

The two battled back and forth from there. Here’s what happened:

We reached out to both parties for follow-up comment. Here’s what Schutzler had to say:

“I’ve surveyed more than 100 companies on this topic since DeVore started making noise about it this summer — most of the companies are small, some larger, and yes I’ve heard out Microsoft and Amazon as well,” he said. “There is nearly perfect alignment on the need to protect IP with non-competes and WA state has reasonable and rational rules.”

Update: Giri Sreenivas, a Seattle entrepreneur who founded a mobile security startup called Mobilisafe that was bankrolled by Madrona Venture Group and Trilogy and later acquired by Rapid7 in 2012, shared some insights on Twitter:

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