Jason Fried

CEO, Basecamp

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON November 21, 2016

Discussion

Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
Hi all! Jason here. Excited to be answering your questions today so let's kick things off!
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Really enjoyed reading REWORK. It's probably one of the best & most down-to-earth business books out there. And REMOTE and GETTING REAL are listed very high on my 'to read' list. Are you currently working on another book?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@tomstocklein Thank you thank you! In fact we are about to start on our next book. We're aiming for a late 2017 publication date if all goes well. I hope to be publishing a pre-book manifesto by the end of this year. It'll be an intro to the major ideas that'll be coming in the book. Should be a good one - we're feeling great about the topic and I think the timing is right. So stay tuned!
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Jason thanks for being here today! How can founders maintain a strong company culture, whist having a distributed team? How important is this if the team is largely remote?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@ems_hodge I think it's important regardless of local or remote, but of course it can be a little more challenging if you have a local and remote culture at the same time. In the end, people are people, so you have to understand what motivates them. Not as a bunch, but as individuals. And then you work to play to each person's strengths as best you can. We do a few things we do to make sure people are mixing emotionally and not just on a pure work level... Once a month Basecamp 3's automatic check-in feature asks everyone in the company what books they're reading. This is a wonderful way for everyone to get a sense of what people are into, what their personal interests are, what moves them, etc. On Monday mornings, Basecamp asks everyone "What did you do this weekend?" People share pictures of their gardens they worked on, home improvement projects, dishes they cooked, walks with their pets, their kid's first steps, etc. It's another wonderful way for people to share things that are going on in their own lives. This is all optional, of course. People can share as much or as little as they'd like. Another one Basecamp 3 asks is "See anything that's inspired you lately?" People share all sorts of things. It's great. Also, remember that culture is a by-product of consistent behavior. It's not something you write down, it's not a mantra, it's not a method. It's what you do over and over and over. It's values you act on repeatedly. That's your culture.
Luís Otávio Ribeiro@luisofribeiro · Product, Catarse
During 17 years, you have seen the rise and fall of differents project management tools. What is the Basecamp approach to deal with competition?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@luisofribeiro We do the best we can. There's no other way. We do the best we can if we have competition, and we do the best we can if we don't have competition. We are not competitor focused - we are focused on Basecamp and our customers. You can't worry about things you can't control, and you can't control what competitors do. You can only control what you do, so you do your best.
Leo Bassam@loaibassam · Founder, CEO at Plutio.com
@jasonfried brilliant piece of advice right here
Jonny Miller@jonnym1ller · Cofounder @Maptia
Hey Jason – love REWORK and will shortly be purchasing 52x copies to give out to the Escape the City Startup Tribe here in London. I was especially intrigued by your idea of creating incentives for Basecamp employees to get 8 hours sleep a night (mentioned in your conversation with Kevin Rose) and curious to hear about any other quirky or creative culture hacks have you dreamt up (or heard of elsewhere) and that you might be tempted to test out?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@jonnym1ller Thanks Jonny! Yeah that was a fun interview with Kevin. He's so easy to talk to. No hacks - just reminding people that 40 hours is enough, get some sleep, etc. Basics. We also encourage people to take more time off on the summer with 4 day weeks May - Sept. And we also offer paid 30-day sabbaticals every 3 years. Get away from work! Clear your head! That sort of stuff.
Jonny Miller@jonnym1ller · Cofounder @Maptia
@jasonfried Thanks, and I agree it's easy to get carried away with the fun stuff. Keeping it simple and prioritising sleep + rest makes sense!
Rokon Ahammed@ahammed027 · Visualising The Future..
Jason, what most difficult challenges you faced during your Basecamp launching and how you overcome those?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@ahammed027 The most difficult challenge when building anything is knowing when to stop building. When to ship. Everything's incomplete, and your ideal vision is rarely fully realized by 1.0. But while you're building, the rest of the world is using version 0 - your product isn't in their hands yet. So remembering that 1.0 is way better than 0.0, and that from release onwards you can continue to improve and adjust and add and tweak... But you can't get to that process until you ship v1.
Ali R. Tariq@alirtariq · Product Designer, Manulife RED Lab
Hey Jason - thanks for spending some time with us! 37Signals' success and evolution into today's Basecamp is referred to by many as an inspirational example of how to stay focused, listen to what customers want, and bootstrap your way to great financial success. Considering the journey you've been on, how different do you think Basecamp would have been if you had been a VC-backed company? And what do you think is the most important factor someone should consider before they embark on their bootstrapped journey into entrepreneurship?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@alirtariq If Basecamp was VC-backed there's no question it would be a very different company. I certainly wouldn't be running it. I doubt David would either. That's not to say it wouldn't be more or less successful - that's impossible to know, and "success" has many definitions. But surely very different. For me, VC or bootstrapping is all about what kind of habits you want to form. If you want to get good at spending money, taking VC is a good route. If you want to get good at making money, bootstrapping's going to give you a better shot at developing those skills. And I think those skills - making money skills - are the right ones to develop.
Rik van Kerckhoven@rik_van_kerckhoven · Founder, PartyWatch
What is the future of e-mail going to be like?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@rik_van_kerckhoven Probably like the past. Email is an amazing invention. I'd say one of the top 3 in the past 100 years. Email is email. Email clients will make the experience a bit different. Google Inbox has done a great job turning email into something you act on, not just reply to. That's an innovation. But it's still all email underneath. Recipients, subject, and a body So pure, so perfect. Beat that.
Prialto@prialto · Marketing Manager, Prialto
@jasonfried @rik_van_kerckhoven Jocelyn Glei's new book "Unsubscribe" has great insights about how to manage our email inboxes more effectively, since email is a huge pain point for almost everyone doing business today. Check out our Cliff Notes version of her book here: https://blog.prialto.com/refocus...
Rodrigo Machado@rmachadomaia · Co-Founder and CEO @ Catarse
Hello Jason! Thank you for your time! I read Rework and just picked Remote as my next reading. I work in a company that have built a remote culture from the beginning. Half of us work locally and half remotely. We strongly believe in remote work but on the other hand we are aware of its challenges. What medium/long term benefits you observed by applying this remote/flexible work policy in Basecamp? What cons (or major challenges) would you highlight?
Farbod Saraf@farbodsaraf · Co-founder Everboard.io (YC SUS17)
Why 37signals? Do you blieve in Aliens? And what are some of your favorite books?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@farbodsaraf Read this: https://signalvnoise.com/posts/3.... Yes I believe there's life elsewhere. Books... Lot's of them, but I'll leave you with the one I just finished: "Endurance". It's about Ernest Shackleton's incredible attempt to cross the Antarctic continent back in the early 1900s: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IC8.... Amazing story of perseverance and leadership against all odds. Riveting book.
Andrew Bass@andrewdbass · Startup junkie and improving hacker
Jason, you consistently produce amazing thoughts. What do you feel is different about your way of thinking than the way of the general population?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@andrewdbass That's kind of you, thanks. Mr. Blackburn, my high school science teacher, told me "Have no respect for authority in itself, for there are always authorities that are wrong." That really stuck with me. I've always looked at things objectively. And if I see room for improvement, I try to improve them. I don't do things one way because that's how you're supposed to do them. I do them the way that makes sense to me. Once you realize their way doesn't have to be your way, it opens you up to entirely new perspectives on how to live, work, and be. I try to share my ideas from that perspective.
Andrew Bass@andrewdbass · Startup junkie and improving hacker
@jasonfried thanks!
Devesh Kumar@onosmosis · Developer, WhiteShark
@jasonfried Great answer
CA. M. Jayakumar@mjayakumar · Co-Founder, Agrya
Jason I have seen you changing the pricing of basecamp multiple times, in your view what is the best pricing strategy for SAAS. Also if startups are my taget clients what's the best pricing strategy?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@mjayakumar The best pricing strategy is one that leads to profit. You can charge as much or as little as you want, but if you aren't generating more money than you're spending, you're not going to survive. Business is very simple that way. Nothing fancy about it. Make more than you spend and you can stay in business forever. Spend more than you make, and you won't be around for long.
CA. M. Jayakumar@mjayakumar · Co-Founder, Agrya
@jasonfried thank you for your advice.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
It seems people still can't get working remotely to be successful... Given each company who has remote employees is different how do you think they can improve this without having some sort of dedicated specialist?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@bentossell My observations are different than yours. I see remote working exceptionally well for all sorts of companies in all sorts of industries. I hear from the all the time. Granted it's not entirely mainstream and may never be, but I see more and more companies working remotely, and not the other way around. Remote is harder to implement if you already have a very local culture. So most of the great remote companies are being built from the beginning as remote companies. Changing a culture is much harder than starting one. I think one of the common mistakes I see is companies with 40 local people hiring one remote person and then coming to the conclusion that remote doesn't work. What doesn't work is 40:1 ratio. That doesn't work. Remote is just fine. All of our thoughts on remote and making remote work are in our book called... REMOTE! https://www.amazon.com/Remote-Of...
Joel Verhagen@joelaverhagen
You seem to have strong internship programs at Basecamp. I'm currently in a paid long term internship program at a design agency. What do you expect of interns in showing their value to the company?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@joelaverhagen We just started our internship program last year. It was a wonderful experience. Lots of credit goes to Noah who initiated the program, and Ann who took the lead with Noah to make it happen. In some ways it was trying and taxing - we weren't ready for the time commitment, but all the mentors did a great job giving their interns the best possible experience they could. In the end the results were fantastic. I was really proud of how it all came together. We ended up hiring a few folks who were interns, so that was a bonus too. I think the real key was that we had them work on real projects. Stuff that shipped. They weren't made up projects. No busy work. Real stuff that we used, learned from, and in most cases, shipped. And every intern had full access to the rest of the company - they had access to every Basecamp project everyone else did, they participated in our "HQ" (our company intranet that's part of Basecamp 3), etc. They were equal and even to every other employee. They were us, not them. We plan on continuing that tradition in 2017 with the new class. If interested, you can apply here: https://basecamp.com/about/inter...
Joe Wilkinson@j_wilkinson · Senior Growth Manager at Lucid Software
Is there a regular habit you have that contributes an outsize amount to the quality of your life?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@j_wilkinson 40 hours a week max. Ending work ever day - not letting it push the rest of life away. And trying to get a good night sleep every night. Harder to do with a 2 year old at home, but it's still the aim.
Joe Wilkinson@j_wilkinson · Senior Growth Manager at Lucid Software
@jasonfried That's great advice. Thank you!
Roman Bogortov@roman_bogortov · Software consultant
Hello, Jason. What do you think about chatbots in our life in nearest future? Which bots do you using already now?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@roman_bogortov I don't actively use any chatbots. That's not because I don't like them or don't believe in them or whatever - it's just because I haven't found a personal use for them yet. As for the concept, I don't think chatbots are revolutionary. They're natural extensions of telephone trees. You call Verizon, you get a recording, you hit 1 or 2, or you say "Cancel my service" or whatever, and it points you in this direction or helps you with this other thing without involving a human. It's all just automation. And clearly the future will have a lot more automation.
Roman Bogortov@roman_bogortov · Software consultant
@jasonfried Thanks!
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Are you and DHH currently working on any stealth projects with Jeff Bezos by any chance?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@tomstocklein Have you heard of the drone delivery thing? That's.... not our idea. Wish it was though!
Alin Rauta@rautaalin
What's your take on AR vs VR? Which one do you think will have a bigger impact on our everyday life and why?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@rautaalin I actually think VR will have a bigger impact. There's more opportunity in things that don't have to obey the laws of physics. I used a VR headset for the first time this year and I was totally blown away. VR feels like it has significant entertainment applications that AR doesn't have. And entertainment experiences are so universally applicable that I'd bet on VR. That's not to say AR won't be huge - I'm sure it will be. But VR seems like more of a release, more of an escape, and given how complicated the real world is getting, I'd put my money on people wanting to escape the real world for a while.
PA@prestonattebery · Founder + Designer at DesignCue
Hey Jason, just listened to Intercom Podcast and love your vibe? I noticed the bold move of posting a personal note to your landing page. What was the reason for this? Are people connecting with your down-to-earth approach? Let's say, in contrast to the happy, go-lucky approach of Slack.
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@prestonattebery Thanks. I don't think it's bold to thank our customers directly like that. I think it's polite. It's what you'd do if were standing in front of them. The idea is to try to simulate that as much as possible. I wrote the note, my email is on it, it's me. In the new world of bot-everything and snarky machine talk, I think a personal touch resonates. We're 100% funded by our customers. Our customers pay our bills. Our customers provide our employees and their families with a living. We never forget that. So being direct with our thanks feels like the right thing to do.
PA@prestonattebery · Founder + Designer at DesignCue
@jasonfried Interesting. Another question, what has influenced the down-to-earth, boyscout-like design style of Basecamp?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@prestonattebery It's just an extension of who we are, and what we're into at the moment. I find the proliferation of slick, formulaic, everything-looks-mostly-the-same product design unfortunate. We try to bring a more approachable, comfortable style of design to our products. Think more like a comfortable, cozy living room where you want to be, vs. a museum where everything looks nice but you're afraid to touch.
Filip Macukić@deleted-478759 · Co-Founder @ Enfluar
Hey Jason :) Which social network (and why?) do you think has an untouched potential for digital and marketing agencies to tackle and expand their service portfolio?
Jason Fried@jasonfried · CEO, Basecamp
@filip_macukic Any of them. It comes down to you. What's your message? What's your point of view? Why should someone listen to you? What are you offering them? Because at the end of the day, all the major social networks have a bazillion people on them. There are plenty of people to receive your message - if you actually have one. Gary Vaynerchuk talks about this a lot and he's absolutely right.