David Heinemeier Hansson

February 22, 2023

Five values guiding our cloud exit

I've talked a lot about cost in our reasoning for leaving the cloud. But while cost is crucial, it is not the only motivating factor. Here are five values that have guided our decision, and that I recently articulated in an internal post at 37signals (so excuse the code names etc):

  1. We value independence above all else. Being trapped in Amazon's cloud, and having to suffer the indignities of outrageous pricing for new experiments (like Solid Cache), has become an intolerable violation of this core value. 
  2. We serve the internet. This business owes its entire existence to the societal and economic aberration that is the internet. A place for commerce and more that's not owned by any one company, any one country. Free trade and free expression on a scale never known to humans before. We will not contribute to the erosion of those ideals by voting with our dollars for further consolidation of the servers that run this beautiful free haven into the hands of a few hyperscalers.
  3. We spend our money wisely. The cost of cloud is grotesque in several key instances. Whether it's big-iron databases, large NVMe storage, or just the latest, fastest compute, we're paying as much to rent the donkey every few months as it would cost to buy it. When that's the case, you should own the donkey! We will spend our money on our own hardware and our own people. Everything else will get the squeeze.
  4. We lead the way. Cloud has been sold as The Answer to SaaS companies like ours for a decade or more. I bought the narrative. We bought the narrative. The narrative is not true. Cloud has its place, and we used it well with the launch of HEY, for example, but that place is a minority perch. Most SaaS business of our size and above should be owning their infrastructure rather than renting it. We will pave the path ideologically and technologically for others to follow that conclusion.
  5. We seek adventure. "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work" -- Daniel Burnham. We've been at this business for over two decades. To keep the fire alive, we should continue to set our standards high, keep our values honest, and press forward into new territories on all fronts. Otherwise we will shrivel. We don't need to be the biggest, we don't need to earn the most, but we do need to continue to learn, to challenge, and to aspire.

Let's go.

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.