Why HEY had to wait

We had originally planned to release HEY, our new email service, in April. There was the final cycle to finish the features, there was a company meetup planned for the end of the month to celebrate together, we’d been capacity testing extensively, and the first step of a marketing campaign was already under way.

But then the world caught a virus. And suddenly it got pretty hard to stay excited about a brand new product. Not because that product wasn’t exciting, but because its significance was dwarfed by world events.

A lack of excitement, though, you could push through. The prospect of a stressful launch alongside the reality of a stressful life? No.

That’s not because we weren’t ready to work remotely. That we had to scramble to find new habits or tools to be productive. We’ve worked remotely for the past twenty years. We wrote a book on working remotely. Basecamp is a through and through remote company (and an all-in-one toolkit for remote work!).

But what’s going on right now is about more than just whether work can happen, but to which degree it should. We’re fortunate to work in software where the show doesn’t have to stop, like is the case in many other industries, but the show shouldn’t just carry on like nothing happened either.

About half the people who work at Basecamp have kids. They’re all at home now. Finding a new rhythm with remote learning, more cramped quarters, more tension from cooped-up siblings. You can’t put in 100% at work when life asks for 150%. Some things gotta give, and that something, for us, had to be HEY.

And it’s not like life is daisies even if you don’t have kids. This is a really stressful time, and it’s our obligation at Basecamp to help everyone get through that the best we can. Launching a new product in the midst of that just wasn’t the responsible thing to do, so we won’t.

Remember, almost all deadlines are made up. You can change your mind when the world changes around you.

HEY is going to launch when the world’s got a handle on this virus. When we either find a new normal, living within long-running restrictions, or we find a way to beat this thing. We’re not going to put a date on that, because nobody knows when that might be. And we’re not going to pretend that we do either.

In the meantime, we’ll keep making HEY better. We’re also going to put in time to level up Basecamp in a number of significant ways that have long been requested. The work doesn’t stop, it just bends.

If you wrote us an email to iwant@hey.com, you’re on the list, and we’ll let that list know as soon as we open up. If you think you might be interested in a better email experience when that’s something we all have the mental space to think about again, please do send us a story about how you feel about email to iwant@hey.com.

Stay home, stay safe!

22 thoughts on “Why HEY had to wait

  1. Hi David,

    Thoughtful write up, as always. I love the transparency that your company always displays.

    The part of the post that most surprised me was “In the meantime, we’ll keep making HEY better.” I’m sure you have a slew of ideas. But if you’d launched according the original timeline, the next stretch of time would provide rich feedback to guide your decisions about what to prioritize. Any thoughts about how to work in this feedback-less period? (Maybe it’s that you’ll focus more on Basecamp in the meantime, as you alluded to.)

    Not that you asked, but here’s one vote for supporting custom domains on launch day 😀.

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks, Luis. We’ve heard everyone very loud and very clear on the desire for custom domains! So that’s definitely factoring into the equation.

      But also, we’re continuing to use HEY every day! So we get a lot of direct feedback in that regard. Will probably also have some friends and family on the system shortly.

  2. Some people chose to live their lives in fear to the point it paralyzes them into doing nothing. While others march forward and blaze a new trail.

    It appears Basecamp is in the former camp.

    Be bold guys and push forward. “Get Real” and release your service today.

    I say this with love as a long time 37s fan.

    1. About half the people who work at “Basecamp have kids. They’re all at home now. Finding a new rhythm with remote learning, more cramped quarters, more tension from cooped-up siblings. You can’t put in 100% at work when life asks for 150%. Some things gotta give, and that something, for us, had to be HEY”

    2. Those are two far ends in a spectrum. There can balance between those points. I respect the fact the Basecamp is recognizing this isn’t the best time for a new product, for the many reasons they shared. That isn’t living in fear. That’s being smart, thoughtful and intentional. They’ll blaze a new trail, when the time is right.

  3. 37s has got to be getting swarmed with applications now. You guys have repeatedly proven with your business decisions that you see the forest and the trees. Cheers to you guys.
    Do the most important work. We’re all just jealous.

  4. „Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honored.” – Marcus Aurelius

    Tak David!

    1. @Luke Yes you are! *Posted previously that if you send your email you’ll be on the list 🙂

  5. The comment in the blog is right on: “Remember, almost all deadlines are made up.” Not only now is that important to remember, but it is always important to remember. Of course deadlines are important, but as mentioned, they can be changed when circumstances change.

  6. I wonder if the release of HEY a bit later, if/when things spin back up again nationwide or worldwide, could also be a welcome, additional shot of encouragement. The nation comes out of quarantine, and folks look for signs of things really cranking back up.

    HEY! They are.

  7. “Remember, almost all deadlines are made up. You can change your mind when the world changes around you.” ~ DHH


  8. It’s so refreshing to see this. I’m also fully remote, but having my three kids home during the day is definitely changing the dynamic here.

    Thank you for setting such a great example on how to treat your employees, maintain sanity, and avoid “artificial crises” so people can focus on real ones.

  9. Thank you for this quote “Remember, almost all deadlines are made up. You can change your mind when the world changes around you.” It’s something I’ve always believed and it’s heartening to see someone putting it into practice.

    I give my best to all of you. Now having a pair of kids now at home while I’m working, I understand the 150% comment!

  10. Thoughtful. Aware. Mindfulness. As 37s is expected to be. Timing is about context. We are waiting.

  11. Your decision really makes a lot of sense in the current scenario but yeah it also a little sad to have to wait longer. I was just curious if there was any reason that you guys haven’t shared any kind of teaser or visual mockup just to garner a little more interest

  12. I was dismayed to hear about the delay and then felt a lot better upon reading this.

    I already run my own email server and have stop/started writing my own IMAP client. The latter is a helluva lot more difficult to do. Thanks for taking on that task.

    Looking forward to release!

  13. My plea is in.
    Hotmail user before Microsoft even knew what it was and Postini user before Google knew what THAT was.
    Went as far as Linode: Dovecot/Postfix/MySQL so count me in. Readdle’s Spark felt creepy and Airmail too.
    Let me at it, and let me know if I can help out too! Ruby, Rails, Jira, triage, anything.

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