CHICAGO — December 1, 2015–Basecamp is now a $100 billion dollar company, according to a group of investors who have agreed to purchase 0.000000001% of the company in exchange for $1.
Founder Jason Fried informed his employees about the new deal at a recent company-wide meeting. The financing round was led by Yardstick Capital and Institutionalized Venture Partners.
In order to increase the value of the company, Basecamp has decided to stop generating revenue. “When it comes to valuation, making money is a real obstacle. Our profitability has been a real drag on our valuation,” said Mr. Fried. “Once you have profits, it’s impossible to just make stuff up. That’s why we’re switching to a ‘freeconomics’ model. We’ll give away everything for free and let the market speculate about how much money we could make if we wanted to make money. That way, the sky’s the limit!”
A $100 billion value for Basecamp is “not outlandish,” says Aanandamayee Bhatnagar, a finance professor and valuation guru at Grenada State’s Schnook School of Business. Bhatnagar points to a leaked, confidential corporate strategy plan that projects Basecamp will attract twelve billion users by the end of 2016.
How will the company overcome the fact that there are only 7.3 billion people alive today? “Why limit users to people?” said Bhatnagar.
In order to determine the valuation of companies, Bhatnagar typically applies the following formula: [(Twitter followers x Facebook fans) + (# of employees x 1000)] x (total likes + daily page views) + (monthly burn rate x Google’s stock price)-squared and then doubles if it they’re mobile first or if the CEO has run a business into the ground before. Bhatnagar admits the math is mostly a guess but points out that “the press eats it up.”
To help handle the burdens of an increased valuation, Basecamp hired former YouTube exec Craig Mirage as Chief Valuation Officer earlier this month. Mirage hopes to replicate YouTube’s valuation success at Basecamp. “Of course, the investment comes with great expectations. But you should see the spreadsheet models we’re making up. Really breakthrough stuff,” said Mirage.
“Basecamp will lead the new global movement filled with imaginary assumptions on growth and monetization potential,” he continued. “We’re excited to roll out a list of unconfirmed revenue possibilities that involve crowdsourcing, claymation emoticons, 4D touch, in-app garage sales, goofy looking goggles, social stuff, and an app store. Also, everything we make will include a compass.”
I recently realized that if I’m too busy to take something on, I shouldn’t say “I don’t have the time”. In fact, I often do have the time. It’s not that hard to squeeze in some extra time for someone.
What I don’t have — and what I can’t squeeze in — is more attention. Attention is a far more limited resource than time. So what I should say is “I don’t have the attention”. I may have 8 hours a day for work, but I probably have 4 hours a day for attention.
This summer a guy wrote me out of the blue asking if he could intern for me this summer. His email was great — clear, thoughtful, kind, inviting, confident but not pushy, and not too long (but long enough to say what he had to say without leaving anything out). He was studying at Harvard Business School and was going to be back in Chicago this summer.
He asked if he could swing by and say hi. His email made it easy for me to say yes. So he did, and we had a great session. We spent maybe an hour or so together. I learned about his background, what kind of stuff he was interested in, what he wanted to learn, what he could teach us, etc. Then we riffed on a few ideas. It was natural, flowing, effortless. Really promising.
Then I told him I’d think a few things over and get back to him soon. He checked in a few weeks later, and I said I’d get back to him soon again. And I didn’t.
A month or so after that I wrote him and told him I was really sorry. I’d mislead him — and myself — thinking I had enough time to take on a intern that summer. I wanted to, I really liked him, I thought he’d be great, but I just didn’t have as much time as I thought I had to even consider it more and line up work and spend time with him, etc.
But really, as I thought about it, I realized I had the time. Every day is the same 24 hour cycle. Every workday around 8 hours. Surely I could have found even 20 minutes a day to work with him. But it wasn’t that. It wasn’t that I couldn’t find the time. I couldn’t find the attention.
My mind fills up with a few key projects and that’s it. I’m absorbed by those. That’s where my attention is. Had I made 20 minutes here and there for him, I’m be physically present in that moment, but mentally I’d be elsewhere. And that’s not fair to either of us.
Time and attention aren’t the same thing. They aren’t even related.
We’ve since talked a few more times, and we caught up again last week. I think I’ll have more attention next year. We’re going to keep in touch, check in from time to time as he finished up school, and then try again.
Wow! We’re just a few weeks into Basecamp 3 and so far the response has been fantastic! We’re so pleased that so many people are loving Basecamp 3 (here’s a great post from a customer who explains how they’re using Basecamp 3 to run their whole business). This is only the beginning — we have a lot of great stuff coming in 2016.
Since launch, our whole team has been heads down fixing a few things, tweaking some stuff, and generally tightening things up. Once the initial launch dust clears, we’ll be back working on some brand new big improvements to Basecamp 3. In the meantime, we wanted to fill you in on some of the fixes we’ve baked in already.
For those keeping score, since we launched Basecamp 3 on November 3rd, 2015, we’ve made 877 commits to the code base and deployed 400 times. That’s a lot of activity! Basecamp 3 is getting better not just every day, but multiple times a day!
Here are a few of the highlights
Loads of improvements to the sign-up and sign-in process and experience. We’re sorry this was a bit clunky at the start — should be ironed out nicely now.
Google Sign-in now works for customers using IE 11.
You can now reply directly to notifications from the iOS lock screen if you’re using version 3.03 of the Basecamp iOS app (available on from the App Store).
You can now move individual to-dos between lists on different Basecamps. Prior to this update you could only move to-dos between lists on the same Basecamp.
You can now set the first day of the week in your region (some people like the week to start on Monday, while others prefer it starts on Sunday). You can do this from your “Personal Info” page (click your avatar in the top right corner of the web app, or your avatar on the home screen in the mobile apps).
To-dos with due dates will automatically send a reminder 24 hours before its due.
The “What’s coming up or due soon?” report date will always display the next 45 days. This is clearer than the sliding “this month and next” range we had in place originally, which showed 60 days at the beginning of the month and just 31 days at the end.
Added a “+” button to the right of the avatar strip at the top of a Basecamp to help clarify this is where you add/manage people.
We added multiple-account support for Clientside emails. This means that if we match an email you forwarded in from a client, and you’re working with that client on multiple Basecamp accounts, Basecamp will send you an email back asking you to clarify where the email you forwarded should go.
Major improvements to people management on Basecamp With Clients. Separate places/flows to set up your team and who’s on the client side.
Deleted comments will also be deleted from the Latest Activity timeline as well.
Improvements to the text editor on Android. Formatting will now be properly maintained across platforms.
You can now move people between companies/organizations via the Adminland section. Put someone in the wrong place? No problem anymore!
If you reply to a ping or Campfire chat via email, and you attach a file to that email, the file will make it into Basecamp.
A welcome email is now always sent when you add someone to a Basecamp.
We added a My Devices screen for managing and troubleshooting push notification issues across devices. You can do this from your “Personal Info” page (click your avatar in the top right corner of the web app, or your avatar on the home screen in the mobile apps).
Thanks thanks thanks!
Everyone’s feedback so far has been super helpful. Our support team is keeping track of all the key requests, suggestions, and ideas. In the coming weeks we’ll be reviewing this feedback and incorporating it into our thinking as we flesh out our development plans moving forward.
And if you haven’t tried Basecamp 3 yet, please do. Your first Basecamp is entirely free forever, so give it a whirl risk-free.
I grew up lower-middle class on the outskirts of Copenhagen. Anywhere outside of Scandinavia, the socioeconomic label would probably have been ‘poor’, but Danish safety nets and support systems did their best to suspend the facts and offer better.
But don’t worry: This isn’t a rags-to-riches story. I loathe the I-did-it-all-by-myself heroic myth mongering. I got where I am thanks to government-sponsored maternity leave, child care, health care, education, and even cash assistance. I grew up in housing provided by AAB, a union-founded affordable housing association. And my mother was a damn magician at making impossible ends meet without belaboring her tricks (like biking an extra 15 minutes to find the lowest price on milk).
I was asked to speak at TEDx Midwest by Brad Keywell. Brad was one of the Groupon co-founders, and I met Brad because I served on the Groupon board from 2009 to 2010.
Andrew Mason, Groupon’s CEO, asked me to be on the board.
Scott Heiferman, co-founder of Meetup.com, and a mutual friend of ours, introduced Andrew and me and we had lunch in early 2009.
I had gotten to know Scott over the years after 37signals designed the original Meetup.com site back in 2001–2002.
Scott emailed me back in 2001 asking if he could meet while he was in Chicago visiting family. He liked our early web design work at 37signals. No one had ever asked to meet me out of the blue before — and barely anyone knew who 37signals was — so I was flattered and said yes.
I had started 37signals with two co-founders in 1999. One of those founders was Ernest Kim and the other was Carlos Segura.
A few years earlier, I had interviewed for a job at Organic Online in Chicago. Ernest Kim was the creative director. I didn’t take the job, but Ernest and I hit it off over design and Nike, so we kept in touch.
A few years before that, I was hired on a contract basis by Carlos Segura to help them redesign and rewrite their internal FileMaker Pro database they were using to keep track of their clients.
I made a popular FileMaker Pro-based app in the 90s called Audiofile which helped people keep track of their music collection. Carlos liked the app and the design and found out I was behind it.
I couldn’t find a simple tool to keep track of my growing music collection.
…I can’t remember enough specifics before this, but the chain obviously continues — each link connected to another by a seemingly unrelated event. And I’m sure I’m passing right over a handful of subtle links that made the major links happen.
When you look back on events, it’s pretty incredible how things come together. Nothing happens independently. Everything is tied to something before it. Sometimes the links are more obvious than others, but it’s healthy to take a few moments to reflect on how many things — and people — had to come together in order for another thing to happen.
Is there anything our society exalts more than The Winner? That fiery someone who crushes all competition to stand alone and victorious at the end. A genetic predisposition, I’m sure.
The paradigm of competition is so ingrained as the basic business narrative that we usually don’t even recognize it, much less question it. Well, of course there are winners and losers! What are you, a fucking communist?!
Actually, no. I’m a capitalist who doesn’t like direct competition. Is that an oxymoron? It shouldn’t be. In fact, it’s the profitable, justified motivation I smiled to see affirmed by Blue Ocean Strategy, the business book that explains this non-combative style with case studies like Cirque du Soleil.
I think that’s why I never really liked individual sports or games either. I remember how hard my heart would race playing 1–1 Quake, and how infinitely more shitty it felt losing than winning, and that even the latter wasn’t all that interesting!
Competition is the direct cultivation of stress and paranoia. Tapping fight-or-flight for game and gold. No thank you. Not for me, no siree!
The only competition I’ve come to love is the one against myself, and that’s not really a competition, now is it? The progress of betterment. Playing your part to the best of your abilities in a beautiful whole.
That’s the joy I take away from racing cars for endurance. It’s not so much being faster than the other cars, but striving to perfect your own contribution as part of a team. Pushing against the limits of perfect execution over the long term. 24 hours of testing your capability to avoid mistake and fatigue. Winning is almost incidental to that.
The same goes for making Basecamp the best software and the best company it can be. It’s not about taking out or choking existing or upcoming competition. It’s not about dominating a space to the exclusion of all others. I’m not sipping sour grapes or feeling bad when a competitor hits its stride. In fact, it’s so much more interesting when Basecamp is just one of many, different choices for people to make progress together.
The world is better off when its not being held in the palm of a few dominating winners.
People ask, “How big is your company?” It’s small talk, but they’re not looking for a small answer. The bigger the number, the more impressive, professional, and powerful you sound. “Wow, nice!” they’ll say if you have a hundred-plus employees. If you’re small, you’ll get an “Oh . . . that’s nice.” The former is meant as a compliment; the latter is said just to be polite.
Why is that? What is it about growth and business? Why is expansion always the goal? What’s the attraction of big besides ego? (You’ll need a better answer than “economies of scale.”) What’s wrong with finding the right size and staying there?
Do we look at Harvard or Oxford and say, “If they’d only expand and branch out and hire thousands more professors and go global and open other campuses all over the world . . . then they’d be great schools.” Of course not. That’s not how we measure the value of these institutions. So why is it the way we measure businesses?
Maybe the right size for your company is five people. Maybe it’s forty. Maybe it’s two hundred. Or maybe it’s just you and a laptop. Don’t make assumptions about how big you should be ahead of time. Grow slow and see what feels right — premature hiring is the death of many companies. And avoid huge growth spurts too — they can cause you to skip right over your appropriate size.
Small is not just a stepping stone. Small is a great destination in itself.
Have you ever noticed that while small businesses wish they were bigger, big businesses dream about being more agile and flexible? And remember, once you get big, it’s really hard to shrink without firing people, damaging morale, and changing the entire way you do business.
Ramping up doesn’t have to be your goal. And we’re not talking just about the number of employees you have either. It’s also true for expenses, rent, IT infrastructure, furniture, etc. These things don’t just happen to you. You decide whether or not to take them on. And if you do take them on, you’ll be taking on new headaches, too. Lock in lots of expenses and you force yourself into building a complex businesss — one that’s a lot more difficult and stressful to run.
Don’t be insecure about aiming to be a small business. Anyone who runs a business that’s sustainable and profitable, whether it’s big or small, should be proud.
This essay and many others like it appear in the book REWORK, written by Jason Fried and yours truly. See what we’re up to with our 12 year-old business Basecamp, which just launched a brand-new version 3.
Osmo Wiio is a Finnish researcher of human communication. He has studied, among other things, readability of texts, organizations and communication within them, and the general theory of communication. His laws of communication are the human communications equivalent of Murphy’s Laws.
If communication can fail, it will.
If a message can be understood in different ways, it will be understood in just that way which does the most harm.
There is always somebody who knows better than you what you meant by your message.
The more communication there is, the more difficult it is for communication to succeed.
And I particularly like his observation that anytime there are two people conversing, there are actually six people in the conversation:
Radically more powerful than any Basecamp before it, it still maintains — and expands on — the straightforwardness and ease-of-use that people around the world have come to know, trust, and love about Basecamp. Basecamp Just Works.
This combination of power, ease of use, and unique approach is why over 5,000 companies and organizations sign up for Basecamp every week. We’re dedicated to continuing to delight them and to try win over a million more with Basecamp 3.
Basecamp 3 is built around the premise that no matter what kind of work you’re doing, there are a few things every team needs: A way to divvy up work, hash things out quickly via chat, make big announcements, keep discussions on-topic, store and organize key files and assets, lay out milestones and deadlines, and have regular check-ins to make sure everything’s all right. These are the simple truths of working together well.
And rather than have to duct tape together a DIY-suite of separate products by separate vendors with different interfaces, separate user accounts, different billing schedules (and prices), and decentralized storage of information (some stuff in this one, some stuff in that one, end up with stuff all over the place, etc), we’ve built everything you need into a single, coherent bundle. That’s what Basecamp has always delivered. And now it’s delivering more of it, better than ever before. There’s nothing else out there like it!
Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing a lot more about Basecamp 3, but I wanted to start by focusing on a few big new things in Basecamp 3:
A large portion of our customers are client services firms. Designers, agencies, dev shops, lawyers, accountants, you name it. People with clients. Client work is their bread and butter, and we wanted to make them the best damn sandwich they’ve ever had.
So with Basecamp 3 we introduce The Clientside — an entirely new, fresh take on working with clients. It’s built right into Basecamp 3 is it’s available on the Basecamp With Clients package.
Basecamp 3’s exclusive “Clientside” feature keeps client feedback on the record and completely separate from the rest of your project. This means your client never sees anything they shouldn’t, and your team doesn’t have to tip toe around worried about saying the wrong things. It eliminates all the anxiety and fear that are often tied to the client-firm relationship.
Further, the Clientside puts zero demands on your clients. They never have to create an account, they never have to log in, they never have to learn a system or install any apps. Everything they do happens via email so there’s no burden on them whatsoever. They don’t have to change a thing, and it’s so much easier for you since you never have to feel like you have to tell them they’re doing it wrong. They can never do it wrong in Basecamp 3. No awkward conversations about tools! Your clients will love you!
If you’ve used a modern chat, collaboration, or messaging app, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a growing expectation of being available all the time. Someone at work hits you up on a Saturday, you get the notification, and what are you supposed to do? You could ignore them, but what’s the expectation? The expectation is “if you’re reachable, you should reply.” And if you don’t reply, you’ll likely notice another message from the same tool or a tool switch to try to reach you another way. And then the pressure really mounts to reply. On a Saturday. Or at 9pm on a Wednesday. Or some other time when it’s life time, not work time.
We don’t believe tools are at fault for this — tools just do what toolmakers build them to do. But we do believe toolmakers can build tools that help you draw a line between work and life. We’ve baked these good manners into Basecamp 3 with a feature we’re calling Work Can Wait.
Work Can Wait lets you set your own notifications schedule. Each person in Basecamp 3 can set up their own work schedule with their own hours. You can of course choose to to receive notifications all the time, 24/7/365, no matter what. Or, you can say Work Can Wait — only send me notifications during my work hours. Then you can set the start time and end time and also mark off which days you work.
Outside of this range, Basecamp will basically “hold your calls”. Notifications will automatically be silenced until it’s work time again. Once the clock strikes 8am, notifications will start back up again. Of course at any time you can go into the web app or native apps and check your notifications yourself, but that’s you making that decision rather than software throwing stuff at you when I’m going for a walk with my son on a Saturday morning.
The more customers we talk to, the most interesting and unusual uses for Basecamp we find. People are using Basecamp for all sorts of things that aren’t traditional “projects”. Us too — we use Basecamp in sorts of ways that no one would define as “projects”. Yet, we’ve always called things “projects” in Basecamp. It’s just too limiting. Time to change that.
For now on, you don’t make projects in Basecamp. You just make Basecamps. This closely follows the language our customers have been using anyway. “Go make a Basecamp for that”… “Let’s make a Basecamp for that!”… “Kick it off by setting up a Basecamp for the client”, etc. Rather than try to swim upstream against our customer’s vocabulary, we’re going to adopt their language and go with the flow. So “projects” are now simply “Basecamps”.
And now when you make a Basecamp for your company intranet it won’t feel so weird. Or a Basecamp for your customer support group. Or a Basecamp for that event that’s coming up. These things aren’t just “projects” — they’re teams, and groups, and departments, and moments. So calling them Basecamps opens up a whole new set of opportunities for everyone to use Basecamp in new ways. We can’t wait to see where people take it.
Communicating in high and low gears
We’ve been running group chat in our business longer than nearly anyone. Back in 2006 we invented the modern business chat tool when we introduced Campfire. For nearly 10 years we’ve experienced all the pros and cons of different kinds of communication methods. So with Basecamp we wanted to introduce a balanced attack. Not just chat. Not just direct messaging. Not just message boards. Not just threads. But all of the above in just the right way in just the right places.
Chat is fantastic for hashing certain things out quickly, but it’s also terrible for long-term organization. And organization is a very important thing when you’re trying to make progress on something with other people. With chat, stuff speeds by on a conveyor belt, conversations are crossed, and it’s just so easy to lose context. People feel like they need to pile in and pile on just so they’ll be heard before that part of the conversation scrolls away forever. Speak NOW or forever hold your peace isn’t a great way to think things through and give ideas due time to develop. Chat also causes anxiety of fear of missing out — they’re often like being in an all-day non-stop meeting.
And traditional message boards are great for long-term organization and keeping discussions threaded, focused, and on-topic, but they are typically too slow for discussions and decisions that require back and forth real-time speed. They can feel frustrating if you want to move quickly or just “toss something in the ring” to see what people think.
So in Basecamp you get both. Chat (we call them Campfires), and traditional threaded discussions (on the Message Board). The best of both worlds in a single tool. We don’t lean in one way or another — they are both equal since both are equally powerful, depending on the situation. You also get “pings” in Basecamp — our version of direct messaging — so you can reach out to people in a separate, personal backchannel.
So two gears… Use Campfires when you want to shift into high-gear and go really fast. But use the Message Board when you want to shift into low gear, get some traction, put together a complete thought, and give people a chance to respond. Use Campfires when you don’t really care about the past, use the Message Board when you know you may want to refer back to something later.
Further, in Basecamp you can have an organized, threaded, on-topic discussion attached to anything. This is one of the real secrets to why so many people love Basecamp. Attach conversations directly to to-dos, files, calendar events. Keep the conversation in context, right next to the thing you’re discussing. It’s so much simpler, tidier, more organized this way. Because discussions aren’t just for who’s part of them now, but also for whoever comes into the company later. Preserve your knowledge in away you can point back to it later — don’t let it just float away.
Simplified packages and unlimited for everyone!
Basecamp has always been “project-gated”. This means you’d have to pay more the more projects you wanted to manage. We’ve torn down the gate in Basecamp 3! Every package includes unlimited Basecamps, plus everyone gets one Basecamp for free forever. Use that one Basecamp however you’d like. When you want to make another, you can select an unlimited use package.
We’ve simplified down to just three straightforward packages. Basecamp For Us for those who aren’t doing client work. Basecamp with Clients for those who do work for clients (this includes the awesome Clientside feature). And Basecamp Big for enterprise customers.
Prices start at just $29/month. That’s total — we never charge you per user. Basecamp pricing is flat and predictable, never variable depending on how many users you invite. People don’t cost a thing in Basecamp. Find out more about our pricing here…
So that’s enough for now!
There’s so much to check out! Please go and sign up for Basecamp 3 and give it a whirl. It’s free to try it out. No time limit.
Thanks to everyone who’s helped us build, test, and beta Basecamp 3! It’s gotten so much better because of you. Check out all the new stuff!
About 12 years ago, I co-founded a startup called Basecamp: A simple project collaboration tool that helps people make progress together, sold on a monthly subscription.
It took a part of some people’s work life and made it a little better. A little nicer than trying to manage a project over email or by stringing together a bunch of separate chat, file sharing, and task systems. Along the way it made for a comfortable business to own for my partner and me, and a great place to work for our employees.