The presence prison

Are you chained to the green dot? Turn it off and break free.

As a general rule, nobody at Basecamp really knows where anyone else is at any given moment. Are they working? Dunno. Are they taking a break? Dunno. Are they at lunch? Dunno. Are they picking up their kid from school? Dunno. Don’t care.

The vast majority of the time, it just doesn’t matter. What matters is letting people design their own schedule around when they can do their best work.

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Let’s bury the hustle

I love Gary Vaynerchuk dearly. So much of his message about patience and perseverance is completely in line with how I view the world. But I can’t take any more odes to “the hustle”. Like most banners, it either dies in obscurity or lives long enough to become perverted.

In the early days, I chose to interpret “the hustle” as a way for those with very little to outsmart those with a lot through clever steps. Finding leverage where you had none. Doing things that weren’t supposed to scale or even work, and making it happen.

But even if my original interpretation was once connected to the term, I can no longer pretend that it is. The hustle has become synonymous with the grind. Pushing through pain and exhaustion in the chase of a bigger carrot. Sacrificing the choice bits of the human experience to climb some arbitrary ladder of success. I can’t connect with any of that.

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Why we choose profit

We’re outspoken about running a profitable company in an industry that so often eschews profits for potential. So why? People ask us why all the time. Why choose profit?

So I thought I’d detail some of the reasons why we designed Basecamp, our company, to be profitable as quickly and consistently as possible. And 17 years into it, we’ve been profitable for 17 years straight. Being profitable is a feature of our company (companies are products too).

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How we structure our work and teams at Basecamp

Six weeks • One cycle

An inside look at the specifics of how we decide what to do and then decide how to do it.

“How do you guys actually work? How do you choose what to do? How big are your teams? How do you structure the work itself” are questions I get all the time. I’ve been sharing the details in small group workshops and 1 on 1, but figured it was time to write something up so we can share it at large.

We landed on this process after a decade of refinement. Just like we’re always iterating on our product work, we’re also always iterating on how our company works. We consider our company a product too. When you begin to think of your company like a product, you can begin to improve it in entirely new ways. I feel like we’re on version 5.2 of “how we work”.

Let’s get into it:

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Status meetings are the scourge

Status meetings are the worst kinds of meetings. Eliminate them and you’ll actually know more, save a pile of money, and regain dozens of hours a month.

A status meeting — sometimes called a stand-up — is a meeting where a bunch of people get together in a room (or virtually via video chat) and speak one at a time. Someone gets the floor, they fill the group in on something that’s going on, then they cede the floor to someone else who does the same thing. One after another, around they go.

It’s hard to come up with a bigger waste of money, time, or attention than status meetings.

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Silicon Valley arrogance: “I can tell you which startups will succeed, without even knowing what…

According to Marissa Mayer, long hours and weekend work (in person) will lead to success


Yesterday I read this article about Marissa Mayer. This quote infuriated me (emphasis mine):

My husband [the venture capital investor Zachary Bogue] runs a co-working office in San Francisco…And if you go in on a Saturday afternoon, I can tell you which startups will succeed, without even knowing what they do. Being there on the weekend is a huge indicator of success, mostly because these companies just don’t happen. They happen because of really hard work.

I read my fair share about the tech world. I haven’t encountered statements this utterly arrogant and silly in a while.

Let’s break down that quote. She’s saying…

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I’ve never had a goal

I can’t remember having a goal. An actual goal.

There are things I’ve wanted to do, but if I didn’t do them I’d be fine with that too. There are targets that would have been nice to hit, but if I didn’t hit them I wouldn’t look back and say I missed them.

I don’t aim for things that way.

I do things, I try things, I build things, I want to make progress, I want to make things better for me, my company, my family, my neighborhood, etc. But I’ve never set a goal. It’s just not how I approach things.

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Don’t let anyone overpay you

The right size net

The moment one customer pays you a lot more than any other customer, you’re no longer a product company, you’re a services/consulting company again.

When we launched the first version of Basecamp in 2004, we decided to build software for small companies just like us. We know how growing from four to six or eight employees is a huge move. We know that it’s during those growth moments you need a system to help you keep everyone on the same page, and help your expanding teams be more self-sufficient. Being roughly the same size as our customers was a product-focused, mission-oriented decision we made then and have stuck to ever since.

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I fucking ❤ Mondays!

It’s actually more Fridays I have a problem with. Fridays are often the anticlimax of the week. Sometimes you didn’t get as much done as you hoped, your energy is spent, and frankly, you just want to put a lid on it.

Mondays, on the other hand, are always full of promise and freshness. Imagine all the great things this week might have to offer! Imagine finally cracking the hard problem that cooked your noodle last week. Monday is the day of optimism, before reality pummels the week and your spirit into submission.

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Being tired isn’t a badge of honor

Whenever I speak at a conference, I try to catch a few of the other presentations. I tend to stand in the back and listen, observe, and get a general sense of the room.

Lately, I’ve been hearing something that disturbs me. A lot of entrepreneurs onstage have been bragging about not sleeping, telling their audiences about their 16-hour days, and making it sound like hustle-at-all-costs is the way ahead. Rest be damned, they say — there’s an endless amount of work to do.

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