Basecamp is a software company. They build software that allows people to collaborate.
I first heard of them back around 2010-11 in Chicago where they started. They were also super interesting to me because it was the very first company I had heard of that had a decentralized workforce from the very beginning.
This was an idea not embraced by anyone in 2010.
In 2009, I had led a funding round for a company that was going to do a decentralized workforce after not having one at their founding. They weren’t doing it because it was core to their business model. They were doing it out of convenience.
It didn’t work.
In 2012, I ran into Sam and Pat. They were building Deskpass and we talked about what Jason was doing at Basecamp. Sam, Pat, and Jason are friends.
Deskpass is a company who’s time has come and if you don’t know about them click the link and sign up. Post-Covid, they are on point.
Since 2012, I have met Jason a couple of times in passing but don’t really know him.
But I followed what Basecamp was doing because it was tangential to the co-work movement where I had a couple of investments, Deskpass being one of them. My wife and others I knew used Basecamp for organizations they worked with. It seemed like really good software.
I listened to Jason actively when he spoke at conferences I was at because I was trying to learn how Basecamp was able to do what it did so well with a decentralized workforce.
The other day, Jason and his co-founder David released a letter to their employees. I encourage you to read it.
It reminds me of the letter that Coinbase put out over a year ago. It’s a wonderful read.
When you institute policies at companies, it’s often very hard to change them. It’s hard to go against the grain, even though in your gut you know that is the right thing to do. It’s also hard because you know that if and when you change, the public backlash against you might be a tidal wave of dissonance.
Because you are deciding what’s best for your company and going against the current. People don’t like that and today they publicly penalize free thinkers.
But, in my opinion, Basecamp is one of those companies that has gone against the grain since its founding. So, their move seems true to their corporate culture. They also famously never raised institutional VC money either. They just aren’t your average startup.
I have seen companies totally messed up over politics. Especially in this political climate. When you allow politics to infect the corporate culture, your company is weakened. It will lose resiliency.
This is especially true in startups where you need every ounce of resilience to weather the storms you will face.
I don’t care if the politics infecting the company is left, right, libertarian, or whatever. All of them sap energy from the culture.
*Photo credit: Aman Upadhyay on Unsplash