On April 26th, Basecamp founder and CEO Jason Fried posted on his blog about some policy changes that would be happening at the company, which makes team collaboration software. One policy stuck out to many on the internet — the company would no longer be allowing its employees to have discussions about society or politics on its internal account.
What followed was a tidal wave of public outcry, employees speaking out against the policies (and talking about what led to them), several revisions of the blog post, and, finally, almost a third of the company’s employees deciding to accept buyouts and leave. There has since been an apology from Fried, but it remains to be seen if any more will be coming — there are still accusations made by employees that haven’t really been addressed.
Whether you’re looking to get caught up on the saga, or want to keep your eye out for future updates, we’re collecting the story into one place here.
May 4, 2021
In a new blog post, Basecamp CEO Jason Fried apologized after the “policy changes” he announced last week ultimately led to a third of the company’s workforce opting to leave.Read Article >
“Last week was terrible. We started with policy changes that felt simple, reasonable, and principled, and it blew things up culturally in ways we never anticipated,” Fried wrote. “David and I completely own the consequences, and we’re sorry. We have a lot to learn and reflect on, and we will.”
May 4, 2021
At 8AM PT on Friday, a bleary-eyed Basecamp CEO Jason Fried gathered his remote workforce together on Zoom to apologize. Four days earlier, he had thrown the company into turmoil by announcing that “societal and political discussions” would no longer be allowed on the company’s internal chat forums. In his blog post, Fried said the decision stemmed from the fact that “today’s social and political waters are especially choppy,” and that internal discussions of those issues was “not healthy” and “hasn’t served us well.” The public reaction had been furious, and Fried said he was sorry for the way the new policies had been rolled out — but not for the policies themselves.Read Article >
Behind the scenes, Fried had been dealing with an employee reckoning over a long-standing company practice of maintaining a list of “funny” customer names, some of which were of Asian and African origin. The internal discussion over that list had been oriented primarily around making Basecamp feel more inclusive to its employees and customers. But Fried and his co-founder, David Heinemeier Hansson, had been taken aback by an employee post which argued that mocking customer names laid the foundation for racially-motivated violence, and closed the thread. They also disbanded an internal committee of employees who had volunteered to work on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Apr 30, 2021
After a controversial blog post in which CEO Jason Fried outlined Basecamp’s new philosophy that prohibited, among other things, “societal and political discussions” on internal forums, company co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson said the company would offer generous severance packages to anyone who disagreed with the new stance. On Friday, it appears a large number of Basecamp employees are taking Hansson up on his offer: according to The Verge contributing editor Casey Newton’s sources, roughly a third of the company’s 57 employees accepted buyouts today. As of Friday afternoon, 18 people had tweeted they were planning to leave.Read Article >
Not long after Fried’s Monday blog post went public — and was revised several times amid public backlash online — Hansson outlined the terms of the new severance offer in a separate Wednesday blog post.
Apr 28, 2021
The controversy that embroiled enterprise software maker Basecamp this week began more than a decade ago, with a simple list of customers.Read Article >
Around 2009, Basecamp customer service representatives began keeping a list of names that they found funny. More than a decade later, current employees were so mortified by the practice that none of them would give me a single example of a name on the list. One invoked the sorts of names Bart Simpson used to use when prank calling Moe the Bartender: Amanda Hugginkiss, Seymour Butz, Mike Rotch.