DHH is a partner of 37signals. I don't think it's public what his share is but he must be getting a healthy share of the profits. Even if you pluck ignorant yet sane estimates out of the air, it can easily add up.
According to Wikipedia, the Zonda Cinque Roadster is limited to 5 units and costs around $2m, so this is probably a $1.5m-$3m project.
Could DHH have amassed several million in the last few years at 37signals? I can't see why not. Blindly assume they have 100k accounts paying an average of $40 per month (not unreasonable given their price tiers), that's $48m per year. With a typically healthy profit margin, there's no reason why he couldn't be taking a dividend of several million per year.
And with no wife or kids (from what I know), dropping even a quarter of your wealth on a single mindblowing car doesn't strike me as particularly extravagant. After all, some people spend thousands of dollars on a TV when they have barely anything in the bank.
Disclaimer: I have no insider knowledge of DHH's affairs and am just pulling numbers out of my ass that seem possible to me given what DHH and 37signals have said over the years.
I don't think so, and I don't think they should share that information, but they've given some "clues" (potentially false) over the years with references to things like "over 1 million users." (Though "user" is a vague term considering how their system works.)
In response to a similar question in 2006, Jason Fried said:
We’re a private company so we don’t disclose this information.
My model was largely based on a few key numbers they had published and a general freemium business model. Since then, they've dramatically reduced the prominence of their "free" option and also stopped posting any details of their business, so I haven't been able to realistically update my analysis.
That said, I think that by focusing much more on their paid plans, and by branching out into even more business lines has made 37signals more and more profitable. (See their recent string of new hires.) I wouldn't be surprised if they were exceeding $10million a year in profit, which would be ~$5million a year to DHH. Enough to safely afford a dream car like this. :)
Heinemeier Hansson is based in Chicago, but since the Zonda was never homologated to U.S. specifications, reports indicate that the owner bought a vacation home in Italy just so he could drive the thing. Now that's dedication.
Probably won't be coming to the US (though wouldn't it be fine on a track?):
"Heinemeier Hansson is based in Chicago, but since the Zonda was never homologated to U.S. specifications, reports indicate that the owner bought a vacation home in Italy just so he could drive the thing. Now that's dedication."
Reminds me of an article I read about an American airline pilot that keeps a small house in Germany just to store a Porsche that he cruises the autobahn with. Having been both on the autobahn (when I was 12, in a pokey Toyota van) and in Porsches, I can easily imagine doing the same.
An in-law of mine married a guy who spent the first $90,000 he made as a doctor on a Porsche. He owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, just got married and was only making about $120K... He just really wanted a Porsche.
I'm sure he's doing well, but it also sounds like he's a real automotive enthusiast. While $350-500k sounds absurd for a "car", if it is his dream, with how well they've done, and his fees on speaking engagements... that's probably not that far out of reach.
Is it a good investment? In happiness maybe. Some of the best times of my life were taking my car out on the track. I miss it dearly.
After all the shit I've mumbled about him, 37s and rails... that he really wants this car--and appears to know what it is--his stock just went up a bit in my book. Us car guys, we stick together.
edit: Just saw someone else posting that it's more like a $1.5m-$3m project. That certainly changes the scale, but I still think the point applies.