David Heinemeier Hansson

February 5, 2024

Basecamp turns 20

On February 5, 2004, we released the first version of Basecamp to the world. It was built to solve our own problems running client projects as an agency where we found email alone to be lacking. The first version was really just the basics: Messages, todo lists, milestones. We didn’t even have file uploads! But it was easy, it was affordable, and it quickly became a success.

Mainly because it simply solved a real problem right away. Anyone who’ve tried to organize a larger project over email can instantly recognize how Basecamp cures the pain of keeping everyone in the loop, ensuring things didn’t fall through the cracks, and having a record of decisions for later.

That problem is still the same today, which is why Basecamp continues to thrive. Using the same core recipe, two decades after its initial release.

That kind of longevity is rare on the internet. It’s even more rare amongst independent software makers. Over time, most companies either stumble, get acquired, or see their core problem solved through other means. That may well happen to Basecamp one day too, but that day is not today.

In fact, Basecamp is more relevant than ever. Technological progress has brought many blessings, but boy has it also brought new hassles. Too many companies now live a split-brain existence with data and collaboration scattered over half a dozen tools. All SaaS, all asking a monthly fee. The confusion around what goes where and how to find it is immense.

Joan Westenberg captured this predicament of “modern work” perfectly the other day:


In contrast, Basecamp puts everything in one place. Bringing some much-needed calm to the daily life of millions of people who are just trying to get stuff done. That simplicity sadly seems like somewhat of a secret cheat code these days.

But it’s how we’ve been working for twenty years. Using Basecamp to build Basecamp. Using Basecamp to build HEY, ONCE, Ruby on Rails, Hotwire, and a million other commercial and open source projects. With a comparably tiny team, which, thanks to Basecamp, see extraordinary productivity through asynchronous collaboration and long stretches of uninterrupted time.

We’ve made it the spirit of Basecamp to share exactly how we do this. Not just with the software itself, but also with books, blogs, podcasts, videos, keynotes, and open source.

That’s how we’ve built this brand. By out-sharing and out-teaching the competition. We’re never going to have hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital to light on fire with targeted ads or a huge sales force. But we damn well have the energy, the enthusiasm, and, most importantly, the stamina to keep teaching you the interesting lessons we learn along our way.

So happy birthday, Basecamp! If you’d like to help us celebrate, just sign up for a free trial and see what it looks like today. Over the past two decades, tens of millions of people have used Basecamp, but many don’t know just how good it’s become in 2024. Bristling with novel features, constantly updated and improved, and better than ever.

If you don’t need Basecamp yourself, you can also bring a gift of recommendation. Help someone stuck either just on email or drowning in the modern mess of a million overlapping tools find calm with Basecamp. They'll thank you quickly!

Either way, we're here to stay. Basecamp is the kind of ever-green product that solves a perpetual problem, which will be needed as long as humans need to collaborate with each other. Maybe in another 20 years, the interface is all AI-driven and ski-mask accessed, but I'm pretty sure you'll still be saying "it's in Basecamp".

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About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.