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.
February 9, 2023

How it started / how it's going

A picture of my home office in Malibu went viral last week. Some two million people gawked at that lovely Catalina Island-facing view that forms the background for work when I'm there. Here's another shot of that same office from the early morning: It really is my dream office. But at the same time, it's also just an office, and the mo...
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February 7, 2023

Software has bugs. This is normal.

Disappointment occurs when expectations don’t match reality. And our expectations for software quality are profoundly unrealistic. Thus, lots of people are continuously disappointed — even enraged — by software bugs. They shouldn’t be. The only reliable, widely used way to ensure impeccable software quality is to write less software th...
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February 3, 2023

Proof of the peak

Just a couple of months ago, I wrote an analysis of why I believed we were entering the waning days of DEI's dominance. I looked at four factors: 1) the likely judicial defeat of affirmative action in universities, 2) the disintegration and scandalization of BLM, 3) the loss of Twitter as an effective woke policing mechanism, and 4) fi...
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January 31, 2023

Just let me do my job

This is to everyone who've ever been frustrated with the inability to find time at work to do their actual job. To those who've had to nod and smile at the VP of Wasting Everyone's Fucking Time. To whoever is sick of playing calendar tetris just to win the prize of zoom gloom. To people who actually like what they do, and would be ever...
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January 26, 2023

Hardware is fun again

I lost interest in computer hardware during the 2010s. It seemed years would pass with only meager, marginal improvements. Intel was stuck in a rut, so CPUs were barely improving. The only bright spot for me was Apple's progress with their A-series chips for phones. But that felt like a segregated reality from that of regular computers...
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January 23, 2023

Glorious days like these

This is my favorite kind of day. An entirely empty schedule combined with a juicy, challenging project to dedicate it to. The perfect antidote to the dread that occasionally sets in when a whole week is devoured by #ExecutiveLife. Nothing invigorates the soul like seeing something come together out of nothing, and to do that, you need ...
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January 20, 2023

Another Android

It'd been a couple of years since I'd gotten a new Android phone. The last one was the One Plus 8 Pro. Nice phone, but I hated the screen water-falling over the edge. And I absolutely cannot stand the One Plus hijinks applied to scroll acceleration. So I've pretty much only used it as a spare Fortnite machine for the kids, except when ...
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January 16, 2023

You can always go faster (if you know where to risk it)

The better you are, the faster you go. That's a basic truism of just about any field, and programming is no different. But competence isn't the only input to pace. Risk tolerance is just as important, if not more so. You can't go quickly if you treat every problem with the diligence required for rocket surgery. If your work can directl...
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January 12, 2023

They're rebuilding the Death Star of complexity

I started my career in programming during heydays of Java Enterprise Edition (J2EE). This was late 90s/early 00s, and there was a rich ecosystem of enterprise vendors hawking application servers, monitoring tools, and boxes upon boxes of other fancy solutions. These tools were difficult to learn, expensive to license, and required an a...
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January 10, 2023

The only thing worse than cloud pricing is the enterprisey alternatives

We spent the last couple of months thinking that bringing HEYhome from the cloud was going to involve SUSE Rancher and Harvester. A combination of enterprisey software products that would give us a cloud-like experience on our own hardware, and require minimal changes to how HEY is already packaged and deployed. But we should have smel...
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January 9, 2023

We don't A/B test core values

Carlos Trujillo recently had to cancel a Basecamp account, but we managed to leave a warm, lasting impression by making it effortless. No last-minute offers, no pressure to get on a call to "explain", no dark patterns of any kind. Just gratitude that we could be of service while it lasted. It seems self-evident that it should always be...
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January 4, 2023

A high bar is high respect

It's tempting to think you're doing someone new a favor by initially holding them to lower standards on work, effort, or decision making. They're new! They need to find their feet! Yes and yes, but neither fact is helped by going easy on what good decisions, reasonable effort, and solid work needs to look like at your company. Now keep...
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December 16, 2022

Throw Twitter into the fire of Mount Doom

Whatever brief promise that Elon Musk might run New Twitter on principles not power seem dashed by the ElonJet affair. So I'm now biased to the tail outcome of this acquisition: That it liberates the world from Twitter's unique influence on our common discourse. Nobody should have this much power over the town square. No human is stron...
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December 14, 2022

Apple's big monopoly loss comes curtesy of the EU

After being involved with the tech monopoly fightonseveralfronts in the last few years, I must admit I got a bit jaded after a while. In all the US state actions, for example, it seemed the basic political corruption available to any trillion-dollar company willing to buy all the lobbyists in the land, connecting that to campaign contr...
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December 9, 2022

Meta goes no politics at work (and nobody cares)

It's not even been a full two years since we said no thanks to discussing societal politics internally at 37signals. The drama that decision created was immense, and all-consuming for a few weeks. We trended on Twitter for a while, there were countless, breathless articles covering the move, and ultimately, we said farewell to twenty-s...
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December 9, 2022

European Digital Sovereignty

All societies ought to strive for digital sovereignty. For the power and dignity of self-determination, according to the norms and laws of their culture. Independently of staying in the good grace of foreign powers. Without digital sovereignty, we cannot claim to be free in the 21st century. I stake the claim that we in the Nordics, as...
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December 8, 2022

Your estimates suck

Humans are terrible at estimating anything complicated that involves novel attempts at problem solving. So getting out of estimates and into appetites has been the single most important thing we have done for our software development process at 37signals. Instead of asking for a specific estimate to a specific solution, we start with r...
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December 7, 2022

We can't have good faith on a flat social battery

After several covid years without, I've returned to speak at quite a few conferences and seminars this year. From OMR in Hamburg to Swiss Startup Nights near Zurich to Nordic Perspectives & Fingerprints in Copenhagen. But it was the session last night at the Copenhagen Townhall gathering of startup founders and investors that really ce...
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December 5, 2022

An ode to software products over software services

Back in the early 2000s, software customers and vendors were both excited to embrace an alternative to selling and buying applications on CDs in card-board boxes, dealing with complicated installations or upgrades, and being limited with multi-user collaboration beyond the physical office's internal network. Why bother with these hassl...
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December 5, 2022

More creative than mere humans

ChatGPT is blowing mindsleftandrightincludingmine. It's placed a second dot on what appears as an exponential curve of AI competency, following the huge leaps in creative image generation already made this year. So it's our nature to imagine – or dread! – where the next dot will land, and what perhaps the not-so-distant future will hol...
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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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