Jason Fried

May 3, 2022

37signals: Hello again

When we launched our company in 1999, we were called 37signals. We started out as a web design firm that ultimately transitioned into a software company. As 37signals, we made a bunch of products over the years including Basecamp, Backpack, Campfire, Highrise, and others. We wrote a number of books, and blogged like crazy too. We were ...
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April 7, 2022

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#12]

Hey! Back again with another installment of Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something. So, what do we have this time... Heard Something My friend Bob Moesta is out with a new podcast on product development and innovation, and this 27-minute episode is an especially good one. By the end, you'll have a new framework for thinking abo...
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March 26, 2022

Getting together again

We've worked remotely for nearly 20 years, but we've sustained the distance by lining up intense, one-week-together-in-person bursts twice a year. Over the last 10 years, we've mainly held these bi-annual all-company meetups at our Chicago office. But the combination of the pandemic, and an expiring office lease in July of 2020, conspi...
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March 4, 2022

Reframing it

A friend of mine is pissed off. He hired someone to replace a bunch of windows at his house. The guy did the work. Poorly. And now it turns out he needs to have everything redone. Given how badly the job went, he's going to work with someone else to get it done right the second time. What's there isn't really salvageable. Even the wind...
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February 22, 2022

How to land the job you really want

As someone who's been hiring people for 23 years, I've seen, read, and reviewed tens of thousands of job applications. The ones that typically rise to the top are the ones that demonstrate effort to get this job, and not just any job. We recently hired our first Email Marketing Manager. Nearly 400 people applied for the position. As ap...
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February 15, 2022

Watch out for 12-day weeks

Way back when, we used to release new software on Fridays all the time. That often meant working Saturdays and Sundays to fix an urgent problem with the new stuff, wrecking the weekend for whoever did the release. It was stupid yet predictable, because we kept setting deadlines at the end of the week, as most naturally do. But Friday i...
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February 10, 2022

Getting better vs. feeling better

Over the past few months I've been taking guitar lessons from a friend of mine who happens to be an exceptional teacher. I got lucky. I used to play years ago, but probably only retained 10% of what I knew, so I was as close to starting from scratch as any barely-experienced player could be. Basically, I could dabble and play some chor...
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February 1, 2022

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#11]

Hey! Back again with another installment of Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something. So, what do we have this time... Heard Something While this is a video, it's really about sound. If you like cars, or simply dig physics, I bet you'll find this video (and audio) fascinating. I sure did. Why do engines sound they way they do? I ...
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January 28, 2022

No big deal or the end of the world?

Here’s something that should be obvious: People don’t like to have their grievances downplayed or dismissed. When that happens, even the smallest irritations can turn into an obsessive crusade. Imagine you’re staying at a hotel, and the air conditioning isn’t working right. You call the front desk to mention it, and they say, oh yeah, ...
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January 25, 2022

The Presence Prison

As a general rule, nobody at Basecamp really knows where anyone else is at any given moment. Are they working? Dunno. Are they taking a break? Dunno. Are they at lunch? Dunno. Are they picking up their kid from school? Dunno. Don’t care. The vast majority of the time, it just doesn’t matter. What matters is letting people design their ...
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January 19, 2022

Creativity requires optimism

Pessimism can spark an idea. Annoyance can drive ingenuity. Disappointment can redirect effort towards change. But creativity requires optimism. Creativity isn't about starting something. It's about making something. Making requires sustained effort, and sustained effort requires fuel. That fuel is optimism. When you run out, momentum ...
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January 6, 2022

Deployments: How we announce new features and updates internally at Basecamp

A few weeks ago I shared how we write Heartbeats at Basecamp. Heartbeats are written by team leads that summarize their team's work over the past 6-week cycle. They are published to Basecamp, and shared with everyone at Basecamp, so everyone knows what's happening across the company. The post was really well received, and people have b...
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January 5, 2022

Faith in eventually

Making something new takes patience. But it also takes faith. Faith that everything will work out in the end. During the development of most any product, there are always times when things aren’t quite right. Times when you feel like you may be going backwards a bit. Times where it’s almost there, but you can’t yet figure out why it is...
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January 4, 2022

Why the hell not?

Whenever I dive into something new, I try to find at least one “why the hell not?” moment. And when I can, I try to leave evidence of that moment in whatever it is that I’m building. When we launched our company (37signals) back in 1999, we launched a black and white, text-only site without a single piece of portfolio work to be found....
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December 30, 2021

Does it make you enjoy?

My friend and I have been discussing cars. He's thinking of buying his first fancy one. His dad had one years ago, and he's thought about buying a car like this — like his dad's — for years. He's stressed over it, he's agonized over it, and he's spent a few too many hours thinking about all the reasons why and why not. This morning he ...
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December 20, 2021

What's in a Heartbeat?

We're famous for having very few meetings at Basecamp. We generally think meetings are toxic. Yet, meetings do convey information, and we need to convey information, so what's our replacement? Writing. Long-form, complete-thought, considered writing. We write a lot at Basecamp. Since long-form writing is an asynchronous form of communi...
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November 19, 2021

Distracting? Is it?

In the course of designing user interfaces, and processing feedback about designs, one sometimes runs into a "That's distracting" comment about something specific in the design. You may even say it — or feel it — about something you're designing. What's distracting about it? Maybe something's too colorful. Maybe it's something regardin...
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November 10, 2021

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#10]

This is the tenth post in a new series I'm calling Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something. I'll post these periodically whenever I can fill up three slots — one for something interesting I recently listened to, one for something I read that I liked, and one for something I saw that caught my eye. Hope you enjoy these. — Heard S...
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October 30, 2021

Fewer options can create more optionality

Designing products is one of my favorite things to do — period. There's a lot to love. The twists and turns, the surprises, the creative explorations, the collaboration, and the moments when things really come together. But it's the practical choices, the tough decisions, and the tradeoffs that really make the work challenging and inte...
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October 20, 2021

How we acquired HEY.com

As more and more people discover our new email service, HEY.com, I continue to get questions about how we acquired the domain name. While I can't tell you how much it cost, I can share the story behind the acquisition process. Here goes: — Back on June 9, 2018, I cold emailed help@hey.com: “Hey there– Curious… Would you entertain an of...
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October 19, 2021

Introducing Elaine Richards, our new COO

2021 kicked off a new era for Basecamp. One of renewed ambition and a desire to excel on a variety of fronts, simultaneously. We're no longer just going all-in on something we make, we're going all-out on everything we do. To get there, David and I realized we needed a peer, someone who can help us run the business day-to-day, and thin...
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October 5, 2021

Idea protectionism

On the 10th anniversary of Steve Jobs' passing, Jony Ive reflected on the man he worked with for nearly 30 years. It was a lovely remembrance, primarily orbiting the sanctity of the creative process and the burbling of ideas. It reminded me about something else Jony said about Steve in shortly after his death: “"And just as Steve loved...
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October 3, 2021

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#9]

This is the ninth post in a new series I'm calling Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something. I'll post these periodically whenever I can fill up three slots — one for something interesting I recently listened to, one for something I read that I liked, and one for something I saw that caught my eye. Hope you enjoy these. — Heard S...
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September 14, 2021

Is a business different from a company?

Is there a difference between building a business or building a company? They've always seemed synonymous — interchangeable — to me, but now I think there's a difference. We just completed the search process for a new COO at Basecamp. It's essentially a brand new position at the company. We had a COO for one year about five years ago, ...
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September 4, 2021

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#8]

This is the eighth post in a new series I'm calling Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something. I'll post these periodically whenever I can fill up three slots — one for something interesting I recently listened to, one for something I read that I liked, and one for something I saw that caught my eye. Hope you enjoy these. — Heard ...
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September 3, 2021

Tricks of the trade

Yesterday I was pruning trees with our landscaper. This was an aesthetic exercise — aiming to find a better balance of leaves, branches, light, shadow, density, open space, shape, etc. Part of this process was also getting rid of suckers, crossing branches, and limiting general verticality. We wanted the trees to look more relaxed and ...
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September 2, 2021

How ideas come together for me

First the idea hits. Then I think about it some more and it takes a direction. As I work through the direction, I’ll see another direction. Usually relatively similar, but different enough that it demands its own exploration. As I dig in into the problem, more layers and possibilities reveal themselves. Sometimes they point in entirely...
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August 26, 2021

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#7]

This is the seventh post in a new series I'm calling Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something. I'll post these periodically whenever I can fill up three slots — one for something interesting I recently listened to, one for something I read that I liked, and one for something I saw that caught my eye. Hope you enjoy these. — Heard...
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August 23, 2021

Questions I ask when checking references

When hiring for key positions, speaking with references is important. For us, it's typically the last step in the hiring process. A phase for the final-finalists. Anyone who makes it to the final stage of the hiring process has already been well vetted for skill and disposition. We have a great sense of how they interview, and their to...
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August 18, 2021

The path to Basecamp 4

Something new is on the way. But first, some history. Basecamp Classic, the very first version of Basecamp, launched in 2004. In 2012, we followed up with the all-new Basecamp 2, the first major ground-up redesign in the product's history. Then we did it again in 2015 with Basecamp 3. We've been updating Basecamp 3 ever since, and toda...
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