David Heinemeier Hansson

Creator of Ruby on Rails, co-owner & CTO of 37signals (Basecamp & HEY), best-selling author (REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, REMOTE), Le Mans class-winning racing driver, antitrust advocate, investor in Danish startups, frequent podcast guest, and family man.
Pinned post from October 19, 2022

Why we're leaving the cloud

Basecamp has had one foot in the cloud for well over a decade, and HEY has been running there exclusively since it was launched two years ago. We've run extensively in both Amazon's cloud and Google's cloud. We've run on bare virtual machines, we've run on Kubernetes. We've seen all the cloud has to offer, and tried most of it. It's fi...
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December 2, 2022

Nobody Knows Anything

I can't remember a time in my life when so many got so much wrong in their predictions about the future. Not in politics, not in culture, not in technology, not in economics, not in medicine, not anywhere. It's been a profoundly humbling phase of human history for both the experts that predict for a living and the masses trying to sort...
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November 29, 2022

May Shopify's immunity spread to the whole herd

I've lost count of how many times various groups have tried to cancel Shopify over some store they didn't like. But I do remember the first big one. The fight over the Breitbart merchandise store. It involved mass-mediaattentionforweeks, a Twitter hashtag, 200,000 signatures gathered, and ripples across the tech ecosystem. Yet Shopify'...
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November 28, 2022

Hard times make strong companies

The past decade+ of decadent funding has produced a generation of flappy and fragile tech companies. Fed with excessive capital as early startups, stuffed with absurd rounds of funding as wobbling scale-ups, and finally lobbed onto exuberant public investors at grotesque multiples. Many of these companies have never known real distress...
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November 25, 2022

Equating responsibility with busyness

A lot of people equate responsibility and busyness, especially when it comes to running a company. That responsibility means being involved with everything all the time, doing all the work that isn't getting done to your satisfaction of pace and urgency. Those are traps, both of them, that I fall in often. But I have learned to set bou...
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November 24, 2022

We must say no to these people

John McWhorter's new book Woke Racism ends with with plea to all of those who haven't been taken in by what he calls "The New Religion". Especially if they find themselves accused of being a "racist" after daring to dissent on any racially-charged topics: “We must say no to these people, in quest of a result: An understanding will grad...
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November 22, 2022

Don’t wish it was easier

One of the fascinating aspects of the TikTok algorithm is its ability to connect similarities from alien domains, and thus feed you more of what you’ve liked, but from an alternate angle. This brain hack is of course part of the addictive nature of TikTok, but it also occasionally unearths compelling connections you didn’t even know ex...
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November 21, 2022

The waning days of DEI's dominance

The acronym for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion entered the common corporate lexicon with overwhelming force in 2020. Executives everywhere quickly learned they needed a passable position on DEI to stay employed, and a cottage industry of consultants sprung up to provide it. There were endless proclamations of "doing the work", some e...
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November 18, 2022

Heads we win, tails he loses

Regardless of what happens to Twitter, Elon Musk is without a doubt the most interesting man in the world right now. He's positioned himself at the intersection of so many trends and topics that it's hard to keep count, and through it all, he's tweetingmemes. It's the greatest show on earth, no work of fiction could ever hope to compet...
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November 17, 2022

You can either buy attention or earn it

Most businesses are not fucking Coca-Cola. They don't have this secret recipe that's the foundation of their success. The vast majority of businesses succeed or fail on the basis of their execution and their timing. There just aren't that many profound secrets that completely alter the trajectory of wherever some company's going. But I...
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November 16, 2022

The Current Villain

One of Lefsetz's recurring topics is how music no longer drives culture. There's no longer a shared center. The biggest star of today is someone most of the world have never heard of. With tens of thousands of new tracks hitting Spotify every day, there's just too much volume, too much niche, for anyone ever to break through like the o...
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November 14, 2022

Why is Spotify still linking to the CDC?

Remember when all the noble people of the world stood up to denounce The Covid Misinformation perpetrated on Joe Rogan's podcast? It seems like ages ago, but in fact it was just this January! And okay, it also wasn't all the noble people. Mainly just a couple of old musicians, like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, who for a moment relived...
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November 9, 2022

The bubble has popped for unprofitable software companies

We've often been accused of being unambitious with Basecamp. Why didn't you just raise a bunch of venture capital and go for The Big Time? Why were you taking profits when you could have invested in growth? Don't you want to own a unicorn? Don't you want to be a billionaire?! This is the Silicon Valley way. Ride the big money to the mo...
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November 5, 2022

Apple fired 4,100 when Steve Jobs returned in 1997

In 1997, Apple was in dire straits. The stock was trading at a 12-year low, they were losing gobs of money, and Michael Dell famously called for Apple to shut down and return its money to shareholders. Things were bad. It was at this bottom Steve Jobs returned. In February of that year, Apple bought NeXT Software, Jobs' company-in-exil...
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November 4, 2022

Setting the pace

A productive company culture is one with a clearly set pace. One with basic expectations around how long projects should take, what level of risk is appropriate to meet that pace, and what happens when teams or individuals miss. When the pace is right, you ship high quality improvements at expected intervals, and customers are pleased....
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October 31, 2022

Here's how to fix Twitter

With Twitter under new ownership, it's a great time for us to imagine how this hellscape might actually get fixed. And by fixed, I mean be a place where people enjoy hanging out, where the debate over content moderation is settled, and where Elon Musk might make his money back. Easy peasy then! To start, here's my fundamental premise: ...
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October 31, 2022

The best teacher is a bad boss

It takes a lot longer to learn how to run a good business, if your lessons are derived solely from the confines of calm, comfortable companies operated by kind and caring bosses. Of course you can pickup on the subtleties of a well-run organization, but it's far more memorable to deal with the chaos and aggravation that comes from work...
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October 28, 2022

The delusional demands of some Twitter employees

That crazy son of bitch finally did it. Twitter now belongs to Elon Musk. And I must admit that I'm softening on the prospect. I still think social media by and large operate to the detriment of society, but I don't see Twitter aggravating that under Musk's management. But we shall see! That's the excitement of our time. So many unknow...
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October 28, 2022

American data spies will never care where the servers are

In the two years since the European Court of Justice invalidated the Privacy Shield concept, European companies have been scrambling to pretend to comply with the ruling, without changing anything consequential about how they use American internet services. The erroneous consensus seems to have been that if only they could get an Ameri...
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October 27, 2022

Make politics private again

Before social media, I couldn't tell you what narrow political box to put most of my friends or coworkers. I might have had a hunch as to whether someone leaned left or right, but it was usually just that, a hunch, and more importantly, virtually never relevant to our relationship. That doesn't mean we couldn't occasionally have discus...
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October 26, 2022

Why do they talk like that

Here's Snap explaining to investors why their third quarter results were such a disappointment: “We are finding that our advertising partners across many industries are decreasing their marketing budgets, especially in the face of operating environment headwinds, inflation-driven cost pressures, and rising costs of capital.” Why do the...
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October 24, 2022

Move the needle or move on

Don’t continue to waste your attention on projects that can’t be deemed a success by the naked eye. The more sophisticated you have to be to tell whether there's a positive effect, the less likely it is to be worth the effort. Spend your energy where it’s plain as day when it works. This doesn’t mean instantly bailing if immediate effe...
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October 21, 2022

Need it take 7,500 people to run Twitter?

When WhatsApp was sold to Facebook in 2014, it had almost half a billion monthly users, but a team of just 50 people running everything. Compare this to Twitter, which today has a staff of 7,500 to manage half the number of users. Yet Musk is the crazy one here for suggesting that maybe Twitter could operate with a mere TWO THOUSAND em...
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October 20, 2022

Don’t tell someone how to feel

Emotions rarely flow neatly from logic. That’s why we so often place the two in contrast. And why it’s foolish to try to tell others how they ought to feel. Emotions roam on sovereign ground, and foreign prescriptions feel like invasions. Rightfully so. We’ve made this mistake for at least a decade at 37signals by trying to tell oursel...
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October 19, 2022


I must be the latest of the late-late adopters to LinkedIn. I somehow managed to go almost twenty years without an account on the assumption that this was just a nerdy, straight-laced edition of Facebook. And I stopped using that in 2011, so why would I bother with the lame business version? But it turns out I was wrong even though I w...
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October 18, 2022

The scarcity scarecrows of Open Source

I love the ethos of open source: Free code creating a true commons in software. I'm less enthralled with some of the particulars of capitalized Open Source movement, which at times seem obsessed with the same scarcity mentality that runs the commercial branch of our industry. One of those times is right now with the fight over GitHub's...
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September 26, 2022

Expectations are everything

It's well established that Olympians who finish 2nd are less satisfied than the ones who finish 3rd. It's "I was so close to winning" vs "I'm just happy to have made the podium". Expectations at work! I got reminder of just how true this is racing at Spa in the European Le Mans Series yesterday. We started the race with the absolute lo...
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September 22, 2022

Misery starts when the struggle ends

In the essay "Can socialists be happy?", George Orwell makes the penetrating observation that while humans can imagine hell in minute detail, heaven escapes anything but the most fuzzy, vague descriptions. We can't conceive of happiness beyond a reprieve from what currently ails us. It's a profound conclusion that has far-reaching impl...
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September 15, 2022

Unreasonable people

It takes unreasonable people to do unreasonable things. It's highly unreasonable to set off to change the way cars are powered across the world. To turn what started almost as a joke – a car driven by a floor full of laptop batteries?? – into that unreasonable reality that we stop pouring liquid flammables into a car that then propels ...
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September 14, 2022

I love being wrong

Being wrong means learning more about the world, and how it really works. It means correcting misconceptions you've held to be true. It means infusing your future judgements with an extra pinch of humility. It's a treat to be wrong. When you've been wrong enough times in your life or career, it invites you to think in bets. If you hold...
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September 7, 2022

The faith of Andrew Tate

“Bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks Bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks Lick on these nuts and suck the dick Get's the fuck out after you're done — "Bitches Ain't Shit", Dr. Dre, 1992 [Lyrics | Video]” Dr Dre has 7M followers on Instagram. This 2011 derivative of the song by Tyga has 31M views on YouTube. “I don't love 'em, I fu...
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