Basecamp’s Loss

May 4, 2021

The Basecamp story is getting weirder by the day. Since last week’s announcement, almost a third of Basecamp’s staff has resigned. A third! And perhaps growing. John Breen has a thread on Twitter with some of the folks.

These are not small losses for the company. The people in this thread are some of the most prominent and prolific employees and members of the open source community. Many of them have built the products we love and use everyday for over a decade. (Even if it was lesser-known folks, it would still not be ok. But the fact that there are such well-known names in the list shows what a problem this is.)

Sam Stephenson’s work in particular is worth calling out. I respect Sam and his work more than almost anyone in our community. The list of his contributions to open source software is incredible. He is among the people that have left the company and on his way out he announced that he’ll no longer make updates or releases to his projects. It is such a great loss for the community and I feel terrible for Sam that he was forced into this position. Thank you for everything, Sam.

I keep expecting to see an apology blog post by Basecamp’s founders. Surely it’s coming, right? Each day that we don’t see a “we really screwed this one up and here’s how we’re fixing it” post published is a bigger mistake. And let’s be clear: the problems at hand are deep and systemic and need more than a blog post to resolve. But you have to start somewhere. Updated May 5: Here is the blog post

Casey Newton’s reporting on the company has been excellent over the past week. His latest post sheds light on the internal meeting last week that led in part to the exodus. I don’t want to quote it in any specific spot, because the whole thing is worth a read and shouldn’t be taken out of context. It’s not particularly friendly towards the leadership team at Basecamp, and if all of these accounts are true, it shouldn’t be.