Jason Fried

Hey! I'm Jason, the Co-Founder and CEO at 37signals, makers of Basecamp and HEY. Subscribe below to follow my thinking on business, design, product development, and whatever else is on my mind. Thanks for visiting, thanks for reading.
June 7, 2021

Listening to last year, at this time

Lately I've been making it a habit to occasionally listen to podcasts from about a year ago. I scroll back in time until I find one that's about this same date from 2020 and hit play. And I have the inventory, another 12 months back to 2019. Last year at this time we were smack dab in the middle of COVID, a pivotal political campaign i...
Read more
June 7, 2021

Hiring future perfects

Last week I announced an open call for product designers, and we've already heard from some outstanding candidates. Huge thanks to everyone who's applied so far. I'm reviewing every application personally, and it's been a joy. Lots of smiles. Keep 'em coming! Unlike years past when we had a specific position to fill, and a deadline in ...
Read more
June 2, 2021

Hiring up! Product designer?

Over the past few weeks, many people have emailed asking me if we're hiring, or about to hire. Good news: Yes we are! In fact, we're aiming to hire a lot of people across a number of positions. If you're interested in joining our team, I'd encourage you to get your name on the list at basecamp.com/jobs to be notified when we post any p...
Read more
May 31, 2021

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#3]

This is the third 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...
Read more
May 25, 2021

What's modern?

I’ve got two machines on me. One’s strapped to my left wrist. The other lives in my pocket. The one on my wrist can tell me the time (precisely in 12 hour format, roughly in 24), the day of the week, the month of the year, which year of the leap year cycle we’re in, and the current moon phase. But that’s its limit. There’s no software,...
Read more
May 23, 2021

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#2]

This is the second 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 ...
Read more
May 19, 2021

Active? Away? How about neither.

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 ...
Read more
May 9, 2021

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#1]

This is the first 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. Let's see how this goes. — Hear...
Read more
May 4, 2021

An Update

Last week was terrible. We started with policy changes that felt simple, reasonable, and principled, and it blew things up internally in ways we never anticipated. David and I completely own the consequences, and we're sorry. We have a lot to learn and reflect on, and we will. The new policies stand, but we have some refining and clari...
Read more
April 27, 2021

On making decisions

Decisions, decisions. Decisions aren't hard — it's the moments after that are. As it's said, you live with a decision. They come with you. They mix and swirl with new times ahead you can't see yet. A decision is a guess about later. Whenever I make decisions, I don't think about now, I think about eventually. How will this feel then. R...
Read more
April 26, 2021

Changes at Basecamp

At Basecamp, we treat our company as a product. It's not a rigid thing that exists, it's a flexible, malleable idea that evolves. We aren't stuck with what we have, we can create what we want. Just as we improve products through iteration, we iterate on our company too. Recently, we've made some internal company changes, which, taken i...
Read more
April 24, 2021

I bought a sauna

I bought a sauna. Which one doesn't matter. I barely know. I don't even care. Model number? I couldn't tell you. Maker? I'd pronounce it wrong. I just know it goes up to about 184 degrees Fahrenheit. I bought a sauna on a second-hand recommendation from someone I don't know, but do respect. I bought a sauna sight unseen, heat unfelt. I...
Read more
April 17, 2021

Pale Blue Dot

Photograph of Earth taken Feb. 14, 1990, by NASA’s Voyager 1 at a distance of 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers) from the Sun — “That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering...
Read more
April 12, 2021

Staying Out of It

Over the past few years I've been practicing the subtle art of Staying Out of It. On any given day, there are dozens of discussions I could be part of. A deluge of decisions I could weigh in on. An overmuch of opinion on which I could opine. But I'm choosing to Stay Out of It. Not because I don't care, but because I don't need to be th...
Read more
April 8, 2021

Why be an entrepreneur?

Earlier this week I caught up with a friend and fellow CEO over lunch. We're in entirely different industries, but, as we usually do, we talk a little shop. We've both been at the wheel for a while, and we've both built lasting businesses without outside capital. One of the topics we slid into was "Why be an entrepreneur?". Not why sor...
Read more
April 6, 2021

How much is Basecamp worth? I don’t know and I don’t care.

A few years back I was speaking to a class at a local university and the topic of valuations came up. One student asked me what our valuation was. I gave her the honest answer: I haven’t a clue. Today I still don't. How is it possible that a successful software company today doesn’t know what it's worth? A valuation is what other peopl...
Read more
April 1, 2021

Four letter words

When collaborating with others, watch out for these four letter words: • Need • Must • Can’t • Easy • Just • Only • Fast They are especially dangerous when you string them together. How many times have you said or heard something like this: “We really need it. If we don’t we can’t make the customer happy. Wouldn’t it be easy if we just...
Read more
March 31, 2021

Excitement is a fleeting moment, not a steady state

As part of my involvement in the Edmund Hillary Fellowship, I've been conducting office hours sessions with a handful of New Zealand-based entrepreneurs. These are typically 1-hour calls focused on a specific struggle they're having. Questions typically revolve around remote work, marketing, differentiation, hiring, messaging, product ...
Read more
March 25, 2021

Company history is a myth

Everything you've heard is fabricated, manipulated, or exaggerated. It probably didn't happen that way. The way things are, likely aren't. It wasn't because of this, it was because of that. The longer its been since it was said, the less likely it's still true. It didn't start there. The founding quote is misattributed. That's not why ...
Read more
March 24, 2021

What I think, not what I thought

A core tenet of how we work at Basecamp is that we make it up as we go, 6-weeks at a time. No big plans beyond that. We have some big picture directional ideas of where we may be headed — like a sailor on an exploratory expedition, aiming for a distant shore — but we're tacking with the prevailing winds, and our whims, until we eventua...
Read more
March 16, 2021

Why should I buy yours vs. theirs?

Sometimes I get asked a direct A vs. B sales question. Like... "Why should I buy HEY instead of Fastmail?" My honest answer: "I don't know. You should try both and see which one you like best. And once you've made your choice, I'd love to hear which one you picked and why." I'm not selling, I'm learning. I can surely point someone to m...
Read more
March 15, 2021

How Coronavirus kids see the world

I've got two young kids. Because of the pandemic, a good portion of their outside experiences have been masked. I think this is ultimately to their advantage. Much of our emotions, reactions, and communications come from the bottom halves of our faces. Our noses, cheeks, and mouths express so much of what's on our mind. The shapes, con...
Read more
March 15, 2021

Giiggle it!

Traditional search engines like Google are pretty good at helping you find something specific. Like a research paper on a clinical trial, or a picture of Wrigley Field, or a product if you know the name. If you kinda know what you want, and you'll recognize it when you see it, there's a good chance that stodgy old search engine will he...
Read more
March 11, 2021

Validation is a mirage

Spend enough time talking with entrepreneurs, product people, designers, and anyone charged with proving something, and you’ll bump into questions about validation. “How do you validate if it’s going to work?” “How do you know if people will buy it to not?” “How do you validate product market fit?” “How do you validate if a feature is ...
Read more
March 9, 2021

Nodding heads, not turning heads

There's so much energy spent on trying to convince someone to do something, or buy something, or change their mind. It's all possible, but it's the hard road. Instead, I tend to try to get people to naturally nod their head in agreement. Whenever I write something with the intention to explain, sell, or promote, I'm aiming for head nod...
Read more
March 5, 2021

An alternative to competition

Businesses love to compete. To beat, to win, to go 1-0. We don't. I have no interest in competing with anyone. And we don't frame internal decisions in a competitive way. Business has never been about competition for me. Market watchers may think HEY competes with Gmail, but we don't think that way. Gmail has nearly 2 billion users. We...
Read more
March 3, 2021

Stem cell or organ?

Lately, I've been thinking about how new features are either launched as stem cells or full blown organs. I'm well aware this is an imperfect analogy, but I'm OK with that. It's close enough to make me think, which is all that matters in my book. A stem cell is essentially an undifferentiated cell that can change — or differentiate — i...
Read more
March 2, 2021

Ditch the elevator pitch

There’s no shortage of lore about the importance of the elevator pitch. There’s the 1850s version, in which inventor Elisha Otis’s dramatic demonstration of his innovation — a safety brake that keeps elevators from falling during a cable failure — set a new bar for colorful, efficient salesmanship. There’s the Hollywood version, in whi...
Read more
February 26, 2021

A product's gravity

I'm often asked how I know when an idea might make a good product. First, I never know. It's always a guess, a bet. I'm just trying to do what I can to increase the odds, to beat the house. But more specifically, it's always a feeling. It's never a number. It's never a quantity of yesses. It's never about early feedback. It's never abo...
Read more
February 25, 2021

Remote work is not local work at a distance

Back in the mid-90s, just as Netscape Navigator was giving us our first look at what the visual internet could be, web design came in two flavors. There was the ultra basic stuff. Text on a page, maybe a masthead graphic of some sort. Nothing sophisticated. It often looked like traditional letterhead, or a printed newsletter, but now o...
Read more

See more posts »