I'm now working at an enterprise software company in the marketing group and it's "calm" in the sense that Basecamp uses the term. Everyone's a professional. Everyone just does their job. Team is mostly remote.
It's phenomenal how much faster in terms of growth the enterprise job moves. Simply because there aren't any "performative metrics". Nobody cares if you show up early and leave late because the metric we're held to tie back to the business. Because we're making actual money we can do more growth experiments. Because we have proven we can do this, we aren't mired down in bureaucracy (CEO and whoever his advisor was that week approval) and weird turf wars between departments.
It's just calm, competent execution 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. The company certainly isn't Basecamp, but the lessons and ethos still work.
Basecamp has offered such a refreshing counterweight to the Silicon Valley unicorn mantra. I believe if some companies, such as Evernote, had followed in their path, they could have had a profitable and useful product that would have continued to be loved and used all over the world.
> Basecamp has offered such a refreshing counterweight to the Silicon Valley unicorn mantra. I believe if some companies, such as Evernote, had followed in their path, they could have had a profitable and useful product that would have continued to be loved and used all over the world.
You're right here. Silicon Valley is built, these days, on high valuations and eventually-profitable businesses (at least that's how it feels from the outside). Once you leave that bubble, and the tiny bubbles in other cities, you'll note that most tech businesses start with profitability in mind and to remain private.
Not so much when you consider that they aren't hiring anyone right now.
Something that surprises me is the number of people that don't believe a company can actually want to remain small.
Similarly, with REMOTE, I don't think I would've considered working remotely as a good option for me before reading the book, but here I am doing remote work and loving it.
The book is in my "To Read" queue but typically while aspirational I do find them helpful even if it is just to motivate you as a team lead or developer to carve out a calm niche for your team within a larger environment.
In other words, they've been blessed with enough success that they can choose the path they're on. OF COURSE there's a feedback loop—remote work helps them be more successful, without a doubt. But, the trade-offs Basecamp makes are not always available to other businesses, and do not offer the same clear upsides to either employees or owners.
(Having said this, I'm a big fan of their style and have learned a lot from them...)
Shouldn't we build an environment where they are?
E.g. if a company doesn't use slave or child labor today, or doesn't pay in company scrip, it's not a loss for them, because no company can use those either. Unpaid overtime was similarly outlawed in lots of western countries.
Societies should build a legal environment where this is true for most sane things companies should be doing and bad things companies should be avoiding.
What basecamp is promoting is totally fine, but at this point you have to recognize that bootstrap / small biz style vs. VC style biz are two different kinds with their own tradeoffs and the emotionalism in the articles are not that necessary.
But the emotionalism behind the articles is probably what makes the content stick, as people frustrated with their current work environment get inspired by SvN blog articles to start their own SMB and buy basecamp products to organize their business.
Yeah, I think there needs to be books that are honest about the tradeoffs of running a business different ways, rather than espousing that "this is the way to do things". Ben Horowitz's "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" is the only one I know that really claimed that sometimes things call for relaxed management and sometimes things call for a maniacal death march.
"Basecamp pays at the top 10% for our industry at San Francisco salary levels, regardless of where an employee lives. The comparison data is provided by a company called Radford that polls compensation data from all the major companies in our industry and plenty of our smaller peers as well. Because we don't pay bonuses, we match our base compensation to the base + bonus of our peer group."
I'm sure it's completely possible for a very talented rails dev to live in SF and be aligned with Basecamp's values, but just not as likely as one might assume.
(Disclosure: I work at Basecamp and don't live in SV.)
So I take it they do have an open-plan office?
~10k sq ft for... 14 people who work in the Chicago office. Well, not really (they have spaces with specific purposes), but there seems to be plenty of space for whatever workstyle a given person prefers.
The Economist is another website that seems to have been plagued by GDPR and other current web publishing trends.
What about the opposite? Find companies that are massively over staffed and duplicate their product with 100x less people?
You need revenue to justify perks, so perks could be a tell. Hmm, glassdoor should have some data on this...