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.
August 10, 2023

Turns out nobody cared about panel gaps

One of the most fascinating aspects of Tesla's rise to dominance has been how they discarded many of the traditional values of car making. While the rest of the industry was stuck competing on the size of their panel gaps, and other aspects of precision and quality assembly, Tesla didn't even show up to participate. Their cars are lege...
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August 8, 2023

The curing value of creation

It's hard not to see your spirits lifted when you're part of bringing something to life. Be that a product, an organization, or a community, or all three at once. Like exercise, it's one of those rare avenues of human endeavor that almost invariably will make anyone feel better. And, also like exercise, the hard part is getting started...
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August 7, 2023

Et tu, Zoom?

The corporate cause for return-to-office just claimed its perhaps most ironic victim: Zoom! The company that literally lives to sell us all on the wonders of remote collaboration wants its own people back into the office again. Which I guess is just a regression to the mean of productivity tool makers failing to believe their own marke...
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August 4, 2023

Not everyone can be the best

Many software developers seem to have a uniquely hard time accepting that not everyone who just tries real hard will become so good as to be among the best in this field. That there really is a discrepancy of talent that leads to a discrepancy of competence. That not everyone can or will become equally good at this job. In contrast, no...
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July 27, 2023

X marks the motivated reasoning

I’ve lost track of all the things that Musk has done to Twitter that ought to have brought it down by now. Scarcely a month goes by without some action triggering the incessant bells of doom, ringing from the bellies of bloviating ding dongs. And the ringing seemingly never stops long enough to allow for some basic contemplation or cor...
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July 26, 2023

Working remotely is a competitive hiring advantage again

As more and more companies, especially large ones, have started demanding remote workers return to the office, the competitive hiring advantage for remote-first companies is back. And it's even bigger than before the pandemic, now that so many workers have had a taste of what life can be like when you don't have to commute to the offic...
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July 25, 2023

Pick promise over proof

After hiring people for twenty years, I've come to accept that it's impossible to know up front what someone is truly capable of. Sure, we try our best to make good, educated guesses during the hiring process, and this is why asking finalists to do sample work projects is so crucial. But it still remains just guessing, and the truth do...
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July 24, 2023

Clear the barnacles

The easiest way to squander your focus is by paying attention to a million inconsequential things at once. These little mental barnacles add up in imperceptible ways until you suddenly feel like you're getting nowhere, no matter how hard you push. You must keep scrubbing your mind clear of such attention-sapping colonies to remain capa...
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July 20, 2023

Don't lose your unreasonable sense of urgency

Getting anything new off the ground usually requires a tremendous amount of urgency. It's hard to launch something from nothing into reality without being incredibly impatient for progress. Thus most founders begin 🎶Their Journey🎶 sprinting from one pressing problem to the next in rapid succession to achieve their lift off. But reachin...
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July 19, 2023

There's no rebound in sight for unprofitable SaaS

Anyone reviewing their S&P 500 retirement fund these days will do so with a broader smile than last year. The market as a whole is up, and if you're in the whole market, you're benefitting. But all of that upside, basically, belongs to just a handful of mega tech companies. This is not a general turn-around, and it's barely a turn-arou...
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June 30, 2023

The law of the land

Affirmative action is right up there with abortion and gun control among the highest-profile, longest-running social fissures in America. So of course the recent ruling from the Supreme Court making its use in college admissions illegal was going to light a political fire. The surprising thing is just how contained the burn has been wi...
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June 29, 2023

Design for the web without Figma

By all accounts, Figma has been an amazing tool for designers. We've used it extensively at 37signals, and I'm sure most every other software shop has too. Adobe didn't pay $20 billion for nothing. But we don't do the bulk of our design work with or in Figma when developing Basecamp or HEY for the web. That's all done directly in HTML ...
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June 27, 2023

Staying in the arena

One of the things that can seem difficult to understand for people who merely tolerate having a job is why anyone would continue working if they didn't have to. You often see a version of this incredulity when the peanut gallery weighs in on the choices of billionaires. Why do these Very Rich People continue to do things – especially t...
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June 26, 2023

Wisdom is not what you know

The hallmark of great wisdom is not what you know, but what you know and can put to use. The globe is full of learned idiots, unable or incapable of following the wisdom they have accumulated. There's no prize for a closet full of axioms or insights, if you leave it all in there, and venture philosophically naked into the world. Ironic...
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June 25, 2023

Back to America

After spending much of the past three years in Denmark, our family is returning to America full time this summer. The original reasons for temporarily emigrating – the prolonged school lockdowns and other pandemic madness – have long since evaporated, and we've had a solid chance to taste all that Copenhagen has to offer. And that's a ...
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June 24, 2023

Rails World sold out in less than 45 minutes

There hasn't been a major, dedicated Rails conference in Europe since 2008, so perhaps it's no surprise that there was pent-up demand. But I was still shocked to see the forthcoming Rails World visit to Amsterdam sell out in less than 45 minutes yesterday! What an awesome reception to the first major project undertaken by our new Rails...
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June 23, 2023

We have left the cloud

Since it took us years to get into the cloud in the first place, I originally imagined it would take us years to get out as well. But all that work to containerize our applications and prepare them for the cloud actually turned out to make it relatively easy to exit. And now, after six months of effort, it's done. We're out. The last a...
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June 22, 2023

Breaking the inertia of mediocrity

It's rarely the terrible decisions, processes, or even people that'll sink your organization. It's the accumulation and inertia of the mediocre ones. Dealing with the truly bad is easy. It's painfully obvious to all that change is required. The danger is imminent. It's much harder to find the will to act when the danger lurks in inadeq...
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June 21, 2023

Europe is half the cost for our company meet-ups

Since the pandemic ended, we've had the pleasure of organizing three different company meet-ups for 37signals. We got going again in Miami, then hopped to Amsterdam, and most recently we went to New Orleans. Next we're going to Barcelona in the fall. Would you have guessed that hosting a company meet-up in US was almost twice as expens...
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June 20, 2023

Until the end of the internet

It's hard to know what'll stick around when shopping for software online. Popular services and crucial products get shut down all the time. You can't even trust that major conglomerates like Google to provide something you can count on two-five-ten years from now. And if you're betting on something backed by venture capital, well, you ...
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June 19, 2023

You can't trust Google

Google will eventually kill every single service you care about, if they can't find a way to directly monetize it with ads at a scale of billions. They're institutionally incapable of being in the product or service business, because neither products nor services butter Google's bread. Advertisement does. You can see this emphasis in a...
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June 19, 2023

Turn down the volume on the world

It's hard to think original thoughts if your senses are being perpetually flooded with everything from everyone all the time. And it's hard to protect your senses against this if you're constantly in close mental proximity to those who've had success running the established script. To escape back to first principles, you need to consci...
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June 15, 2023

Acting your wage will atrophy your abilities

Abilities unused will atrophy, so putting in anything less than your best means giving up on what you’re capable of. You can’t save talent or energy for better days, only watch it go to waste. This is a hard truth to accept if you don’t think your company has earned your best. And companies make employees feel like that all the time. T...
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June 13, 2023

The Le Mans Centenary

I didn't get into the race car until two in the morning. By then, the rollercoaster that is the 24 Hours of Le Mans had already been going for ten hours. Oh, and we were a lap down on the leaders in our class. Doh! I've never had the race go that long before getting into the car. Usually by midnight, I'll have driven at least a good tw...
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June 8, 2023

Hybrid combines the worst of office and remote work

The honeymoon for remoteworkisover, and managers who never liked the concept to begin with are plotting its complete reversal, so that things may return to how they were before The Great Remote Experiment. This experiment convinced millions of employees of how much better life could be without a commute or even having to live by the of...
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June 2, 2023

We need not all be connected, all the time

When I went to school in the 80s and 90s, the communication between the institution and home was limited. Kids could bring home a flyer about some future event, they'd get their grades and remarks detailed in a little grey book, and once a year parents would come in for a chat with the teachers. That was basically it, and it was glorio...
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June 1, 2023

When promotions become punishment

The world is full of talented, capable people who'd rather put their own efforts to direct use than manage others. But the natural inclination is to promote senior contributors up a managerial ladder, and out of the trenches. This often ends poorly, turning the promotion into a punishment. It's usually not that these potential managers...
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May 31, 2023

Start them in the deep end

The kindest thing you can do to a new team member is to involve them in something real and challenging right away. Don't squander weeks of new-job enthusiasm with baby rails and play tasks. Get them into the deep end right from the start. This doesn't mean leaving them all alone to figure out the culture, the work, and the people by th...
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May 30, 2023

360 degrees of phony back-patting

In all the years we ran 360 performance reviews – the employee assessment process where you solicit feedback from peers, reports, and manager – I can think of only once when it lead to a meaningful follow-up. The rest of the time, across hundreds of reviews, it was an arduous, awkward affair of forcing people to come up with novel ways...
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May 26, 2023

Recharging trust batteries with meetups in a remote company

Nothing can substitute for spending time together in person as a way to build bonds, create connections, and foster trust with your colleagues. There's just a special kind of magic that comes from being together, which Zoom will never match or catch. But what's enabled the remote-work revolution to be effective is that these moments do...
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