Big changes at Basecamp

Out-of-the-blue, but not surprised

This week has seen some big changes from Basecamp. The Verge has a good piece outlining what happened.

Stemming from (in part) an internal list of "funny" customer names, and the unwillingness to deal with it head-on, lead to the owners implementing some radical changes. One particular change seem to be the reason that reportedly a third of Basecamp's staff is leaving.

Therefore, we’re asking everyone, including Jason and me, to refrain from using our company Basecamp or HEY to discuss societal politics at work effective immediately.

— David Heinemeier Hansson

There's a lot of "pearl-clutching" going on around this, but I'll wager every call center throughout the world has it's own version of that list. I am not defending it, just recognizing that when humans get together, tribalism follows.

In larger, less public, companies, HR would add policies followed by a company-wide email. The offenders/complainers would be fired or leave due to a series of managerial micro-agressions. Everyone else would forget about it and keep on with their day, in part thanks to the vagueness of the email and policy wording.

With Basecamp we have the owners making decisions in public. Setting out their stall in plain English, and being very open if you don't like how they are handling it.

Who's responsible for these changes? David and I are. Who made the changes? David and I did. These are our calls, and the outcomes and impacts land at our doorstep.

— Jason Fried

We also have an employee's open letter, an announcement that the podcast is going dark by obviously shaken presenters (one of whom has now left), and a slew of tweets of people looking for new jobs.

Whether I will remain on medical leave after publishing this letter is entirely up to you: either up to your benevolence as the dictators of Basecamp, or to your strategic savvy.

— Jane Yang

Jason & David have always marched to their own drum. I don't agree with some of what they have done, but I can see the rationale behind other parts. Let's see if anyone follows this new beat.