So I had several options last year to pursue but decided to join a startup company from somebody I vaguely knew and loved what they were doing. I very quickly established myself as high value there(3D Graphics skills, mostly technical and broad range of domain knowledge/experience in programming and greenfield dev). Before long I was being dangled some equity which grew up to 10% but falled back to 5%(never actually provided any at the end, I’ve only been there 6 months), I was also given board director status, not that it seemed to mention much or have any positive value(get to be liable for debt if shit hits the fan though?). I also briefly managed finances and client liason but for various reasons and some arguements relieved myself of those tasks and lost some faith in how the company was being run. I still was basically co-running the company with influence on decisions and my advice sometimes considered.
Due to certain circumstances, and the companies budget, I felt it was best to avoid any cash payment until the company growth could afford to, instead money should be reinvested in the company growth and with how things were going by end of 2017 or sometime in the first half of 2018 I’d probably see reimbursement for my contributions. Some money was spent by the owner on things I disagreed with strongly, but I had no control over that, despites some attempts to resolve the issue. It was their company after all, so they’re free to do what they want, felt a tad disrespectful however.
I’ve received very little, my faith in the company deminished(not that it couldn’t continue to grow and be successful, just one I didn’t want to retain trust in). Still not clear if I will get any ROI, and that is my own fault understandably. I decided to stick to my original commitment of reducing my contributions/time to the company should by the end of 2017 that I was disatisfied by the ROI and near future. I advised the owner of this and that my commitments were likely to cease or be very limited come March, they didn’t take this too well and tried to dodge all blame and make me feel at full fault, stating I must be depressed and my reluctance to work(unpaid) anymore is demonstrating concerning lack of self-worth(what?). I’ve seen how they’ve treated other contributors to the business or even clients in the past when they get on the owners bad side, if I don’t kiss ass things are likely to go south very fast, not too concerned about that happening.
I’ve noticed that the NDA document he has everyone sign has a clause about IP, but it also references a separate IP contract. As I(and I don’t think anyone actually) was ever given such a document to sign, and I haven’t been paid anything, technically all the work I’ve done is my own IP? As in files I’ve completely authored with my own ideas, anything involving contributions from others in other areas of projects and R&D obviously isn’t mine.
I’m not sure how many readers here are from the business end or the creative/dev talent end, would be interested in your views. Originally I wanted to join with a contract stating I retain IP until I receive $X to transfer IP or a license to use it. I regrettably never found the time to write this up(it seemed to upset/provoke the owner when mentioned that I didn’t trust them, that I had the idea they might wrong me), we were mostly on good terms throughout and the time to properly research how to write such a legal document had me put it off to work on the business deliverables for clients.
TL;DR: Due to circumstances above, my largest contributions that have benefited the company are likely still my own IP that I can take with me? Am I able to refuse the company from continuing to use that IP without paying some sort of license fee or at least permitted to take my own code and release a free public version or proprietary software as my own business?