Basecamp bollocks

Honestly I don’t have much to say about it all – in fact I can’t even be bothered to change my holding title for this post! That said I might want to use some of the fall out of this in future ‘working in the open’ posts so here we are.

If you missed it Jason Fried, founder of Basecamp and the new Hey email service, wrote this post about new ways of working and expectations of staff at his company.

It has a density of tone-deaf views that I have rarely experienced outside of The Onion parodies.

I’m not going to spend my time parsing it – I couldn’t possibly do it as well as this manages it.

This post does a great job of exposing the background of what made Jason and David decide to hitch their company’s reputation to luminaries such as Coinbase. TL;DR new employees called out some long-standing, inappropriate and potentially (probably) racist behaviour. Attempts to do something about it – and the underlying issues – didn’t resolve in a way the Chuckle Brothers wanted. So they took their ball away.

Want to hear what it sounds like when employees realise they bet on the wrong bosses? –>

Honestly I’ve always had a rocky relationship with Basecamp. I don’t like the product much and was meh about Hey. I find their books very love/hate – often on the same page. ReWork was important and Remote has been a boon in recent times for sure. Getting Real had some moments but made so many assumptions and It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work basically totally assumed a world of work that looked like Basecamp.

This has always been my issue – sure I’m no fan of their product but I know a lot of smart people who rate it and I understand their views. I agree with their model of people actually paying for things. The issue I’ve always had is that they set themselves as gurus of modern ways of working but never really seemed to have any self awareness of the luck they’d had nor the fact that a 50ish person, mainly remote company, working on one or two products is not what large swathes of the rest of the world looks like.

Anyway this quote summed up what I’d always kind of thought of the company without ever articulating well;

“There’s always been this kind of unwritten rule at Basecamp that the company basically exists for David and Jason’s enjoyment,” one employee told me. “At the end of the day, they are not interested in seeing things in their work timeline that make them uncomfortable, or distracts them from what they’re interested in. And this is the culmination of that.”

I mean I joke that I only work to have something to blog about but I always got the idea that they created a company to hang posts and books off of…


Turns out DHH decided to double down – the arrogance you must have to think posting this ‘evidence’ is going to turn the tide of public opinion is amazing. Really. Bloody hell.

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