**** Please note that this is a transcript of the unedited version of this Podcast Episode. Timings and content will vary from the audio version. Kevin Garber: [00:01] This week, on the "It's a Monkey Podcast." David Heinemeier Hansson: [00:05] A lot of these people end up not having a better second idea than they had the best first idea, and I'm very conscious of that fact. It might very well be that Basecamp was the best idea that Jason and I, at least from a commercial perspective, ever have. [00:26] [music] Kevin: [00:28] Hello. Good afternoon, good evening, wherever you are in the world. My name is Kevin Garber. I am the CEO and co-founder of ManageFlitter. We are based in Sydney, Australia. It is a little bit of a gloomy day in Sydney, Australia, which is unusual for this time of year. [00:41] We've been having beautiful, sun-shining, heat-wavy weather. I hope wherever you are in the world, you are having a little bit better weather. If you're watching us live on Periscope, it is Wednesday, the first of February, 2017. [00:58] If you're listening to this on your podcast recorder, we've published this on Friday, the third of February, 2017. We try to come to you every Friday. Thank you for joining us. Boy, do we have a fantastic guest on the show today for you, David Heinemeier Hansson, who is the creator of Ruby on Rails. [01:24] He's also co-founder of Basecamp. Super-smart thinker. I had a chat to him last week, and we went all over the place, talking about entrepreneurship, tech leadership and politics, and all sorts of relevant discussion. That's coming up later on in the show, my chat with David Heinemeier Hansson from Basecamp. [01:48] As usual, we touch on some of the tech news. Before then, we'll just remind you of some of the previous podcasts. A couple of podcasts ago, we had a guest, John Demartini, a performance specialist. Last week, we had Sujan Patel, talking about content marketing. There's so much going on at the moment. [laughs] My poor mind just can't keep up. Of course, I haven't even introduced my co-host, Kate Frappell. Kate Frappell: [02:14] Yay. Kevin: [02:16] The design lead at ManageFlitter. Every week, I want to tweet your title. Thank you for joining me on the podcast, as usual. Kate: [02:26] No problems. Good to be back again. Kevin: [02:28] Let's get straight into it, Kate. Some interesting news. We don't often talk about WhatsApp, but of course, WhatsApp is that incredibly successful and well-used chat service. I have yet to meet someone who doesn't use WhatsApp, at least in Australia and America. Of course, it was founded independently, and then Facebook got hold of it and bought it. Kate: [02:55] That was in 2014? Kevin: [02:58] I think somewhere around there, for a lot of money, for $20 billion or something, and WhatsApp was almost not making any money at the time. There's a famous tweet by one of the founders of WhatsApp, where he went for a job interview -- it was either at Twitter or Facebook. [03:16] He tweeted before his job interview and after the job interview and mentioned he didn't get the job, and then he went and he joined this startup. Yeah, WhatsApp has come a long way, and of course he landed up with a lot of financial success. Kate: [03:34] I believe he still works at Facebook, though. He's on the board? Kevin: [03:38] He's on the board of Facebook, and he's still involved with WhatsApp. Let's chat about WhatsApp. It's actually in the news this week, because there's stories coming out that they actually might -- they're testing a new feature where, if you send someone a message and they haven't yet read it, you can retract that message. [04:00] All those drunken texts, angry texts, accidental, emotional texts, if they haven't read it, you can yank it back. Of course, that's not live yet. They're still testing it. Kate: [04:13] I believe so. Great for those accidental, where you send it to the wrong person [laughs] and you need to get it back. Kevin: [04:20] There used to be, in the old days of email, if you were on a corporate network, you could actually recall it. If you were in the same company... Kate: [04:31] I believe you still can, on emails now. Kevin: [04:35] I think if you're on the same network, if you're maybe on the corporate network. You definitely can't do it externally. There's absolutely no way you can do it externally. Kate: [04:44] Once before, we had chatted about Gmail integrating something like that, or they were talking about it, anyway. It might be worth having a look into. Kevin: [04:53] I guess if Gmail did it amongst, if someone else was on Gmail or something... Kate: [04:59] Potentially, yeah. Kevin: [05:00] that would be possible. What else? Any news on when this feature is going live? Kate: [05:06] They're not too sure at the moment, speculating in a couple of weeks, and that's being hopeful. There's a few other things that they're also testing, one of them being a moving location feature for groups. [05:18] If you have a group of friends that you chat to in a group message, you can share your exact location with them for five minutes, which will help if you're meeting up and getting together. Kevin: [05:28] Automatically, right? Kate: [05:30] Inside WhatsApp. Kevin: [05:31] You'll just push a button and it will just... Kate: [05:34] Share My Location. Kevin: [05:35] Share your location automatically. That's pretty cool. Kate: [05:38] Yeah, there's some privacy concerns, but I think that the five-minute limit is eliminating it a little bit. Kevin: [05:45] It shares the location for five minutes and then it, what, self-destructs, or...? Kate: [05:49] Yeah, or it'll just stop sharing your location with your friends. Kevin: [05:55] Of course, they still don't make money directly on WhatsApp, right? There's no ads or there's no... Kate: [06:04] No. I think before Facebook bought them didn't they charge like a dollar a year? Kevin: [06:07] Yeah, something like that. Kate: [06:07] Now, Facebook don't charge at all. Completely 100 percent free. Kevin: [06:12] I wonder what Facebook's longer-term view is of WhatsApp or just eventually integrating it somehow with Messenger. Messenger's one of their big players and they're doing all sorts of big things with Messenger the whole time. Kate: [06:25] Messaging is a huge industry in itself. One other thing that WhatsApp are testing now are a similar idea to Snapchat, where you put a photo status that expires within 24 hours. Kevin: [06:37] Have you tried that? Kate: [06:40] Not on WhatsApp. They're still testing. Kevin: [06:43] Sorry, I thought you were talking about Messenger. Kate: [06:45] No. Kevin: [06:45] You're saying on WhatsApp they're experimenting where you can put a temporary status update that automatically self-destructs? Kate: [06:55] Yes. If they push that through it'll be WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, and Snapchat that all do basically the same thing in terms of a 24-hour photo status. Kevin: [07:05] I think and I actually hope that, the Internet moves towards this ephemeral-type approach a lot more, because I think it makes a huge amount of sense. I'm surprised Facebook hasn't actually...well, I'm not surprised, because I can understand why they don't want content to disappear from Facebook. [07:25] Even with Facebook status updates makes a huge amount of sense if you set an expiry time on it. They do it on Facebook Live. They let you set an expiry time on Facebook Live. Just after two days it just deletes the video, which makes a lot of sense. [07:41] It'd be great to have that on the posts as well. It makes sense that a lot of them are getting into it. Kate: [07:46] There's a use case for having different context in different platforms, if you know what I mean. If they all are ephemeral, then somebody's going to want something that lasts a bit longer. Your audience traditionally on Facebook are everyone, so everyone you come across you basically befriend on Facebook, at least in my experience. [08:08] Whereas Snapchat is probably a younger demographic or people your own age, in which case you'll share things that might not offend an older audience. The stuff you share on Snapchat isn't necessarily the stuff that you'd want to share on Facebook. If they all become the same, then I don't know what the appeal is. Kevin: [08:29] They're fighting for share of the same markets. There were some other figures that came out this week that Instagram Stories has put a dent in Snapchat and Snapchat are going to list soon. It's competitive out there. [08:44] There's only so much headspace, there's only so many hours you can spend on a social media network, and if you're going to spend more time on Instagram it means you're going to spend less time on Snapchat, or less time on Twitter, or less time on Facebook. [08:59] Facebook at the moment have the lion's share of it, of course, owning Instagram and WhatsApp. Very smart of them. Kate: [09:07] Very. Even if I think about myself in the last couple weeks, I've become much more interested in the Instagram Stories than Snapchat. My daily login of Snapchat, I guess, is a lot lower now, because all my friends who are on Snapchat are also on Instagram, if not more of them. Kevin: [09:25] Yeah, I believe it's been executed incredibly well on Snapchat. Kate: [09:33] It's very easy. Kevin: [09:35] It's definitely making a dent. This WhatsApp feature, it'll be interesting to see what happens with WhatsApp and the retract messages. I don't think I'd use it that much, but I can see particularly...drunken texting seems to be a thing. Kate: [09:54] It does. Kevin: [09:55] Especially... [09:57] [crosstalk] [09:57] [laughter] Kate: [09:57] Yeah. I don't know how useful it would be, though, because when you send a drunk text, by the time you think to delete it, that person's probably already seen it. You don't delete it until the next morning. [10:11] This would save, if you sent it to the wrong person, or if you said something that can easily get misinterpreted, you'd want to retract it straight away. Kevin: [10:21] Yeah, well, let's see what happens. There's some other interesting news stories, there's some new technology that's, this is pretty interesting and I'm fascinated by all of this. [10:32] There's a new temporary tattoo type of technology now, it's not like a tattoo, it's not ink, it's more electrodes, it's more like an electronic circuit that is like a temporary tattoo that gets sort of put on your skin and actually works as a sensor. Right? Kate: [10:52] Yeah. Kevin: [10:52] It actually bends and shapes with your skin. It's really, it's not even wafer thin, it's almost... Kate: [11:04] It is. Kevin: [11:04] It's like a sticker almost. Right? Kate: [11:06] 03 nanometers. Plus a 463 nanometer polymer support. I don't know how much a nanometer is, but I'm sure it's pretty small. Kevin: [11:18] Nanometer or nano millimeter? Kate: [11:20] Meter, I've got. Kevin: [11:21] Is it? Kate: [11:22] Yeah. Kevin: [11:22] OK. Of course, linked to that story, actually, is that...I mean, what I find so interesting about that is, the whole quantified self of tracking and monitoring. One of the challenges is, you can't really wear devices, you can't be covered in devices. Kate: [11:43] No. Kevin: [11:43] Then you're tracking headsets and on wrists and heart rate monitors. But if they're that thin, and they're that almost invisible, you can sort of have quite a few plastered on you. Right? You wouldn't even notice it. It's sort of like a Band-Aid, almost, it's even thinner than a Band-Aid. Kate: [12:03] Yeah. I mean, the point would be, would you have multiple or could you just have one? You probably could just have one. Kevin: [12:09] Yeah. We'll put a link in the show notes as always, and you'll be able to see a photo of how discreet it is. It's more discreet than a Band-Aid, actually. It's, you just see... Kate: [12:23] Apparently it's quite powerful, too, like just as powerful as the bulky headsets that we use today. Kevin: [12:28] Right. The bulky headsets for...? Kate: [12:31] Any type of scanning, I've got an EKG sensor. Kevin: [12:34] EKGs or ECG. Kate: [12:38] Something like that, yeah. Kevin: [12:39] Yeah, yeah, the ECG is the one they use for the heart. Of course, tied in with that is the story that came out this week, that there's some monitoring in a similar type of sensor. I don't think it's as discreet. Kate: [12:50] No. Kevin: [12:51] That monitors you for your hydration levels. Right? Kate: [12:55] Mm-hmm, because they're designed to tell you when you're about to face heat stress, AKA dehydration. Kevin: [13:02] Apparently there are some sensors like that already, but they, $10,000, they're incredibly, sort of they're for sports people. Kate: [13:11] Yeah, I'm not sure, I think their production cost is about $8,000 or $8,000 to $10,000. These ones are so small, they could be dollar. Kevin: [13:16] Yeah, and it's actually something that's, especially, I believe, in older people, as people get older, your mechanism for thirst actually stops working. That's why so many old people, older people have dehydration issues. [13:33] You see a lot of older people end up in the hospital with dehydration, etc., and they always tell them, "Drink, drink." I remember with both my grandmothers, used to say to, they went through phases where you had to just say, "Are you drinking?" Kate: [13:43] Force them to drink. Kevin: [13:45] Even things like that would be really useful, especially if it gets to a critical stage, and for sports people that are optimizing performance, and even in Australia, where we get these heat waves. The body doesn't have time to adapt, and people suddenly start getting these migraines and things like that, and dehydration is definitely an issue. [14:05] It's interesting that we can start to monitor such sort of highly individual calibrated aspects of our bodies' sort of activity. Right? Kate: [14:18] Yeah. I mean, I think the barrier for some of these, or at least the tattoo one we mentioned earlier, is that they aren't speaking directly with our mobile devices yet. But it's not far away. Kevin: [14:32] Right, because there needs... Kate: [14:33] Going to put some kind of antenna on them. Kevin: [14:34] Yeah, needs something with Bluetooth, right? Kate: [14:36] Yeah. Kevin: [14:37] Which would bulk it up. That would defeat the whole purpose, so. Kate: [14:42] Yeah, but you need to be able to read it yourself, so. I think that's a necessary step, is to get it integrated. Kevin: [14:48] When we've spoken about this before on the podcast, how in many ways, medicine is incredibly advanced. If you are unfortunate enough to fall off a bicycle and break limbs, a surgery can put you together amazingly. [15:00] The diagnosis side seems to be a little bit archaic. We have to go to a special place with a special room and put a needle in you and take some liquid out of you and you can only get a snapshot in time. There just seems to be so much room for innovation on this side of things. [15:20] It's exciting to see that it is happening, and maybe you just need a coming together of a few different technologies that will really create a whole new baseline, like an iPhone equivalent. When the iPhone came out, suddenly the smart phones had arrived. [15:35] We just need something like that with, on the medical side of things so that we don't need to be going for blood tests. That's just dynamically monitored and we get a ping, we get a notification on our phone that says, "Hey, your B12 levels are dropping. Deal with it, go eat some spinach or something." Much more proactive. [15:53] I'm really looking forward, as someone that tries to optimize my health and productivity, it would be absolutely fantastic. Kate: [16:01] Yeah. Another step from what we're doing now in tracking our fitness, like having GPSs in our watches and phones, and how far we've gone, how many calories we've burned, like it's sort of that next step. Kevin: [16:13] It's the next step, yeah, and of course, all sorts of other data we're creating, and embedded into all of that. It can even track some of these levels with your productivity, perhaps. If we track everything in JIRA and the number of emails you sent and you can start seeing these interesting trends. [16:33] On days where I'm more dehydrated, my productivity drops, and can maybe even automatically start surfacing these trends for you. The dream is when everything's linked in together and talks to each other. Kate: [16:51] To be able to collect facts that were directly relevant to you as an individual would be incredibly beneficial. I mean, all these articles come out at the time about, 10 best ways to be productive and how to improve your morning routine. It all sounds amazing, but it's not going to work for everyone. [17:10] If you could track and try and test and trial, then you could actually find what was the best method for you. Kevin: [17:18] Yeah. No, look, it's exciting times and this technology really needs to evolve a lot more. Every step along the way is a step to the iPhone equivalent of medical tracking and diagnosis. Anyway, you're listening to It's a Monkey Podcast. [17:34] We put together an entertaining and conversational hour or so, sometimes it's more, sometimes it's less. We chat a little bit about tech news, we chat, always try to find a thought leader to talk about a topic relating to entrepreneurship, startups, economics, personal growth. [17:50] We're going to take a short break and when we come back, we're going to play the chat I had with David Heinemeier Hansson, the CTO of Basecamp, and the creator of Ruby on Rails. Just stick around and we'll be back in a couple of minutes. David: [18:08] Hi, this is Dave from ManageFlitter. Are you interested in growing your Twitter account with real followers or within your target audience? ManageFlitter's power mode feature provides pro and business users with powerful search functionality. [18:22] You can search for keywords within tweets, or Twitter bios, and even find accounts that follow your competition on Twitter. Once you have selected a search, you can take advantage of our expansive filtering options to ensure that you only follow the highest quality Twitter accounts. [18:40] Using the power mode feature on ManageFlitter will also ensure that the follows you perform are not wasted on fake or spam accounts. Get the necessary tools to grow your Twitter account by signing up for ManageFlitter Pro or Business. [18:55] Go to manageflitter.com for more info, or email our support team at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Kevin: [19:08] You're back with it. It's a Monkey Podcast, my name is Kevin Garber. On the show we talk about tech, we talk about startups, we talked about entrepreneurship, and most importantly, we talked with forth leaders in our industry. [19:17] I'm very excited to say that I have David Heinemeier Hansson on the show with me today. David is the creator of Ruby on Rails, founder and CTO of Basecamp formerly 37 signals, bestselling author, Le Mans, class winning racing driver, public speaker, hobbyist photographer and family man. [19:37] David, thank you so much for joining us on the show today. David: [19:39] Thank you for having me. Kevin: [19:41] You're coming from Spain today, right? David: [19:43] Yes. Marbella, Spain. Kevin: [19:48] Very, very lovely. David, you've written a couple of medium articles that have gotten a lot of readership. One of the articles that you wrote was titled, "Reconsider." I'm just going to read a quick short section of that what you write. "[20:06] Part of the problem seems to be that nobody these days is content to merely put their dent in the universe, nor they have to fucking own the universe. It not enough to be in the market, they have to dominate it. It's not enough to serve the customers, they have to capture them." [20:20] What's interesting in reading your title is that you're putting a little bit more than a dent in the universe which is ironic. David: [20:27] I don't know about that, but what I do hope to do with that post was to inspire other entrepreneurs to look beyond the predominant paradigm for startups right now, which is completely dominated by venture capitalist methods and goals. [20:47] Those methods and goals were summarized in that paragraph you just wrote. When a venture capitalist invest in a startup, they need to have someone that dominates the market. They need to have someone that captures all the customers. [21:01] They aren't just content with a small little dent. No. It has to be full ownership, because that's the only economic model that works for them. When you make 10 investments of many millions of dollars and you expect that only one of them is going to make it out. That one that makes it out, that unicorn that needs to be forged has to be spectacular. [21:22] That spectacular-ity can only be achieved when you have that complete control over market as you've seen with Facebook, Google, and the other smash hits that have sustained the venture capitalist industry for so long. [21:38] I'm just saying, "Hey, wait a minute," just because this is the method that sustains a venture capitalists model, that shouldn't be the paradigm that all startups operate under. There's so many other different ways to make that smaller perhaps, a dent in the universe. [21:57] Make a smaller company that nonetheless provides a great product at a fair price that enriches all of us. Enriches customers and the people making the product, and so forth and doesn't just serve this small Kabal of money lenders and their interests. [22:15] I'm trying to some extents break the spell that venture capitalists have cast over the whole startup ecosystem and that includes the media, as well. The unfortunate, this whole model, the whole VC model from seed funding and onwards have so captured the imagination of the media, and the people who follow that. [22:41] That this has seen us the only option that start-up equals this path of financing, in this path of success. I wanted to just use my own example with Basecamp as a company that was absolutely a startup. [22:58] Operated in the same sphere as many of these other venture capitalists startups, yet chose to go a completely different route, and ended up in a completely different place that was nonetheless extremely attractive. Most startup entrepreneurs just simply don't really recognize or know about. Kevin: [23:17] What's really interesting is here on Australia, we don't have a very sophisticated early stage VC industry. It is improving the whole time. A lot companies here have had to go with similar route to what Basecamp went to, where you take in pain monitor, you take Atlassian. [23:33] They only took many very, very late in the game, because we haven't had much of a choice here. We're not setting in Silicon Valley or in New York. We're not from Harvard and Yale. We just have to get going and do it whatever way we can. David: [23:49] What a blessing to be outside of that eco-chamber. What a blessing to be outside of that bubble. It shouldn't detract from that large success that then later on these companies chose to still dip in to the same money pool. [24:06] It's wonderful that Australia was able to incubate these companies, get them to such a stage and level of success without these organizational structures that you have in Silicon Valley. In many ways, that's a similar story of Basecamp. [24:24] Not so much because we couldn't as in we tried and we failed, but that we chose to start the company outside of Silicon Valley. Basecamp hails from Chicago. It hails from Copenhagen, Denmark. It hails from all over the place where we have remote workers. [24:39] The foundation of the company was outside of this traditional startup scene. We're all, the better off for it. Kevin: [24:47] I once tweeted Marc Andreesen, the famous and founder in VC in Silicon Valley. I said to him, "Can you tell me which companies have had super success without VC funding?" He actually tweeted, he said, "I'm struggling to think of any." [25:05] He tweeted out one. It was some enterprise networking company, I can't remember the name. That narrative, that model, in a way, it's worked for them, all the people it's worked for, it's worked for. Let's put it that way. David: [25:22] There are lots of people that hasn't worked for at all. I think that story needs to be told far more often. It hasn't worked for public markets to large extents, lots of these companies have been forcing on to the public markets, long after they've peaked. [25:37] We've seen everywhere from Groupon to Zinga, and so forth, where you have this incredible hype mobile, that comes out of Silicon Valley, where the sky is the limit and everything is going to end up this tightened that owns the entire industry. [25:54] Of course, lots of them falter and fall on their face. In the wake of that, tons of people end up being hurt of that, because the growth was simply on an unsustainable path. I don't know if you've remember, when Groupon the daily deals business, actually finally out of Chicago but very much in the Silicon Valley mold, originally programmed to be seen. [26:19] The whole story was about this was the fastest growing company in the history of business or whatever. They were the first company that got to a billion dollars within no time at all. The growth alone became a story of success. That was some final destination which we all cheered for. [26:37] That the best thing that could happen with companies and the world in the general, is that we ballooned these companies up at a completely unsustainable pace through all sorts of steroid injections of hundreds of millions of dollars buying less than hundreds of millions of value. [26:56] It's just completely converted. We need a new narrative, a new structure, new goals, and new role models to some extent for what is a successful startup, what are some of the different paths that startups can take? [27:11] It's very [inaudible] to say Marc Andreesen couldn't name any other companies that have had "Success" and of course, he couldn't. Because, the companies that he look at, as success of the companies that provided those 10 or 100 extra turns for VC founders. [27:27] Is that the measure we want to hold to all companies too? Is that what we should look at for the definition of what success is? Absolutely not. It serves this again, small group of money lenders, and what they view as success, we've somehow accepted as an industry and as a media that's just what we should clone. [27:48] We should clone their language, we should clone their statues of success. I'm saying, "No, we shouldn't." There's a better and broader perspective on both business, living, and working in success that both founders, employees, and customers would be very well-served to pay more attention to. Kevin: [28:07] Do you consider Atlassian a competitor of sorts, or do you also release any metrics about Basecamp? Your private company, you don't need to. There's various Quora articles that try to reverse engineer what your revenue is and your customer basis. [28:24] There was one interesting Cora article that tries to compare Atlassian versus Basecamp, and tries to show that Basecamp is the margin that's just based on the number of employees. It's stratospheric compared to Atlassian. David: [28:42] They are. Just through sheer virtue the fact that we have a tiny company that have had millions and millions of people who use our systems, and hundreds, thousands of customers going through the process. The difference is that we can make an economic model work on a somewhat smaller scale. [29:03] Basecamp is 50 employees. We don't have a sales force, we don't have a marketing force, we don't have a lot of these other push machinery that shoves product in front of customers. We don't have mega-enterprise deals. We don't try to sell tens of thousands of seats. [29:22] In fact, everyone pays the same price for Basecamp. It's $99 a month. That's it, that's all you can pay us. That's by design. In large part, because we did not want to become a large company that required an enterprise sales force and so forth. [29:38] I don't even think that's a very interesting comparison. Atlassian, Basecamp, Trello, Asana, and there's a bunch of companies that overlapped to some extents and have some part of their customer base that could use one product or the other. In many ways, they are also quite different. [30:02] The companies that sign up for JIRA or any of the other Atlassian products, would tend to be more on the larger side of things. The companies that have a key account managers and that kind of stuff. We're basically just have different model. [30:17] We self-serve, we sell directly to customers on their behalf, and they get to pay us $99 a month. It's just a different economic model and both of them are very valid. There's not that everyone needs to serve just small and midsize businesses that we do at Basecamp. [30:33] It's not that everyone needs to -- like Atlassian and others -- chase more enterprise-y part of the segment. All these customers need to be served. It's wonderful that we can do it from different angles and we can do it from different value propositions. [30:50] That's great. The whole paradigm of this competitive nature of, "There could be only one," this highlander mythology of selecting winners and losers in the market field is simply outdated for whole host of industries. [31:12] Certainly, collaborative, communicative software is one of them. There aren't any strong network effects in our business. If one company chooses to use Atlassian, and another company chooses to use Basecamp, so what? There's not a lot of overlap. [31:27] It's quite different from the consumer social network business that overtaking narrative of business storytelling for quite a while in tech were if there's Twitter, then there's not also going to be App.net. If there is Facebook, there's not also going to be Orkut or Google+. [31:48] Those industries do seem to be far more winner-takes-all, thus that whole battle theme makes a lot more sense than it does for something like communication software, collaboration software that just works within companies. Kevin: [32:03] Atlassian bought Trello recently. Have they ever made an offer to buy you? [32:10] [laughter] David: [32:10] No. Even if they did, we wouldn't be for sale. I think we've made that point exceedingly loudly and repetitively over the past 15 years. In the early days of Basecamp, we had lots of suitors. [32:23] At one point, we counted 45 inquiries from various venture capital firms in the first two years of the business. Over the next year or two, there were a series of [inaudible] from potential suitors who wanted to acquire us. [32:40] At this point, we've made our point very clear, through articles like [inaudible] and others that we're simply not for sale. One of the key reasons that we're not for sale is that we've been profitable since day one. Not only have we been profitable, we've been entirely sustainable. [32:57] When you get to enjoy that level of freedom that comes from sustainable profitability over the long term, it's not very appealing to get bought out by some corporate entity that of course is going to set their own targets and dictate how the business should run. [33:16] The amount of life satisfaction that you can derive from running your own show, saying what you want to say whenever you want to say it, and simply serve your employees and your customers is incredibly liberating. [33:29] I don't think that there's a whole lot of people who end up in that situation and then say, "Oh yeah, I'm willing to trade all that for a new boss just so I can get another zero on my bank account." It isn't that appealing. [33:43] I think a big reason for why that isn't appealing is the same argument that I consider in other post, that the difference for an entrepreneur between having zero dollars in your bank account and having, let's say, one million dollars in a bank account, is very, very large. [33:58] The difference between having to check the price in a restaurant and not caring about it at all is very large. The difference between having one million dollars and two million dollars in your bank account, or 5, or 10, or 40, or 100 is so much smaller. Kevin: [34:13] You can only sleep in one bed at a time and drive one car at a time. David: [34:16] Exactly. Difference is in the things that you would have to give up to chase that bigger pot of gold, to get that extra zero on your bank account. When you look at something like getting acquired, it's monumental. [34:30] I spend still the majority of my day working. I spend eight hours a day or thereabouts, 40 hours a week, on Basecamp. The amount of pleasure that I derive from that, the amount of life satisfaction that comes out of that, of being commanders of our own ship and setting our tone, and saying what we want to say is monumental. [34:54] There's a level of freedom that people vastly underestimate when they get blinded by the size of the check. Then when the check clears, they end up going like, "Now I know what I missed." [35:08] I've talked to so many founders and so many entrepreneurs who've gone through that cycle of thinking, "This thing is wonderful. I get to get bought out by this fantastic fantastical sum." Then they spend three weeks on the beach, and then they realize, "Actually, I don't want to live the rest of my life just in leisure. What am I going to do now?" [35:30] A lot of these people end up not having a better second idea than they had the best first idea. I'm very conscious of that fact, that it might very well be that Basecamp was the best idea that Jason and I, at least from a commercial perspective, ever had. [35:44] Why wouldn't we ride that and enjoy that for as long as we could? If we sold that out, we might very well find ourselves unable to replicate or get to the same level as we were. I think we'd be worse off for it. [35:58] There's also simply the whole fact of going through the motions again. I know plenty of people, they arrive in their 30s and their 40s, and they look longingly back at their 20s or their high school years, or any moment in their past when they thought this was glory. [36:16] I think that there's plenty of entrepreneurs that do the same. "I wish I could go back to those early days when we started the company and we didn't have a lot of money and we...da, da, da, da." That's not me. I don't need to rewind the clock. I don't need to play the movie back over again. [36:30] I've been through that phase. I've been through the phase of when we were three people. I loved it. It was wonderful. You know what? Now I like the phase where we're at now even better. I don't want to rewind the clock. I want to keep going forward. Kevin: [36:41] In 2006, if I've got that correct, you did take some funding from Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Is that correct? David: [36:55] We didn't take any funding, because none of the money went into the business. What we did was Jason and I sold a minority slice that had no control, no exit opportunities, no nothing, directly to Jeff Bezos from each of our own slices. [37:10] None of the money went into the company because the company has been profitable since day one and didn't need any money for growth. What Jason and I did was we took a bit of money off the table, which gave us the confidence to go the distance. [37:22] That was in the early days where the economics of the company, they were promising, we were growing quickly, and so forth, but as you know, the risk was still there that all this could end. That's perhaps the choice that a lot of entrepreneurs look at. [37:37] They look at, "This thing is going really well right now, but I haven't made any money yet, and it could end tomorrow. Maybe it's better to cash in on my chips and hand over the company to some corporate behemoth. Then at least I know I can have some money in the bank." [37:55] Jason and I looked at that and said, "If we could take a bit off the table, we could take that bit, the first part of the equation -- the zero to one million jump -- off the table, and still get to keep full control of the company, and not tie it to some venture capital time bomb that's going to go off in five to seven years. That's the optimal outcome." [38:18] That's what we looked at, and that's what we did. It's been an extraordinarily successful model for both Jason and I and for Jeff Bezos. We paid him back five times over what he paid us 10 years ago, and he still owns the same slice of the company as he did back then. We paid the whole thing out through dividends of the company. [38:40] I know it's such a quaint notion that a company can be so profitable that it actually distributes its profits to its owners, and that owners don't get rich solely through equity increases, but that's how we did it. [38:56] It's so funny that that model is seen as esoteric or weird, that founders and owners can enrich themselves by simply running a profitable company over the long term. [39:11] What's doubly funny about that is that the predominant oracle of business, lots of these guys, they look at it in that, if you can own a company and hold it for the long term, as Warren Buffett says, then that's the place to be. [39:32] We've fallen into this short term, sell-the-joker-to-the-next-fool method of wealth creation that I think isn't healthy. Anyway, that's diverging from the topic. [39:46] [laughter] Kevin: [39:46] Tell us what's Jeff Bezos like as a person? He's got a mythical status in industry. He built up a company from almost scratch. I think there was some funding involved. [40:02] They took an interesting approach with AWS and diversification, which was probably against every business text book, to move away from their core value proposition. What' he like as a person to, on some level, work with? David: [40:18] Absolutely fascinating. He's fascinating in many ways of course because he's the opposite of what Jason and I are. We didn't bring someone in that was just a more successful clone of ourselves. We brought someone in who had a completely different perspective on it. [40:34] Amazon itself has grown for decades without making any profits, yet is undeniably been very successful at what is it that they have done. This incredible zeal that Bezos has to continue to invest in the future is fascinating to watch. [40:55] I don't think it's a very general applicable model that most people should seek to emulate, but it's nonetheless a wonderful thing to watch the way he's been able to do it. We've learned a lot from it. [41:10] One of the early meetings we had with Jeff when we went over the business and we talked about what should we work on next and what should we pursue, he imparted on us his quote about investing in things that don't change. [41:26] He was talking about it in relation to Amazon. When they were looking at, "What can we invest in? Why are we investing billions and billions and billions of dollars in these distribution centers all over the place?" [41:39] He said it in the sense of a customer is not going to wake up 10 years from now wishing, "I wish my packages from Amazon would arrive slower. I wish that I couldn't get my things as quickly as I can now." [41:52] These are enduring moats of business that if you spend your resources investing in the things that don't change, those are going to pay off for the very long term. We've looked at that in many ways at the business of Basecamp. [42:09] For example, if we invest in fantastic customer service, is a customer of ours going to say, "I wish it would take longer for Basecamp to get back to me on email?" Absolutely not. We invested heavily in that, and we've gone from what was in the early days it might take a day or two to get back to a customer, now we get back to customers within 10 minutes, and often within 1 minute of them writing us an email. [42:34] That kind of moat around the business that is incredibly powerful. Kevin: [42:40] It's incredibly obvious as well, and you would think businesses with a lot more resources somehow they alienate themselves from the basics, and the lack of empathy for the customer seems to have disappeared. [42:53] Then when business goes bad they sometimes blame all sorts of things whereas just the basics at the end of the day. Looking after the customer and having empathy for the customer sometimes is that simple. David: [43:05] Exactly. We have a saying at Basecamp, just execute the basics beautifully. That goes for the design of the product and the number of features it should have, to how you deal with customers and so forth. [43:16] The funny thing here is then doing so is much easier when you're a small company than when you're a big company. When you're a big company, you have multiple layers of management, which a game of telephone to pass these objectives around. [43:30] When you have the big boss saying one thing, it gets filtered and diluted through a couple of layers of management until it reaches the people who actually have to do the work. At Basecamp, there's Jason and I, and then sometimes directly the person does all the work, and sometimes there's one team lead, and then the team does the work. [43:51] The very short hop from the objectives that we set, and how we talk about the business, and how we do the actual work of the business to the effects that you then see. Secondly, I think small companies are more often characterized by the constraints that they have to embrace. [44:10] They simply can't do everything. They can't try to add all the bells and whistles in the world. They have to execute the basics beautifully simply thorough out of sheer constraint. [44:22] That embrace of constraints is exactly what we've so enjoyed over the years when we've said no to things, when we said no to expansions, when we said no to ballooning the staff, when we said no to all sorts of things. [44:36] Most recently in 2012, we actually went Benjamin Button on the business and shrunk it down from having four major products to having one. [44:48] That was one of those moves where you go like, "Wait, what? You guys have four profitable, growing businesses and you're choosing to divest yourself of three of them to focus on one? Couldn't you hire some more staff and grow a bigger company? Wouldn't that be much better?" [45:04] Sure, that's a pass someone could have taken. We chose not to take that because we were interested in exactly that, executing the basics, having our attention on the one thing, and doing that exceptionally well. Kevin: [45:15] David, Jeff Bezos was one of the tech leaders that was quite outspoken and had some public spats, for lack of a better word, with Donald Trump. He was at the tech leaders' meeting, I believe, where Sheryl Sandberg was there, Peter Thiel was there. [45:34] Peter Thiel, of course, was one of the few Silicon Valley figures that was very vocal about his support for Trump. If Trump invited you to that meeting as the CTO of a relatively significant company, would you have gone? David: [45:51] What I love about this hypotehticals is that it's completely free for me to take the most ideological... Kevin: [45:57] They're safe... [45:56] [crosstalk] [45:56] [laughter] David: [45:56] They're safe. I can very easily say, "No, absolutely not. I would tell the big, orange orangutan to go fuck himself." That's not really a reasonable choice. I can fully appreciate that the likes of Bezos and Tim Cook and so on had to deal with and operate under. Was slightly different. [46:22] They are in the bull's eye a lot more for the executive axing that a pissed-off Trump can rain down upon them. Again, another reason to enjoy the fact of being a small company that doesn't show up on the radar of someone like Trump. That we can get to stand behind our principle in a much easier way. [46:48] I don't have 150,000 employees and millions of customers depending on me. I have to protect the 50 people who work at Basecamp and the few hundred thousands of customers that we have at Basecamp. That's a very different and easier proposition to be. [47:08] That's a big part of the appeal for me to remain this small company that can thus stick to our principle in an easier way. Kevin: [47:17] You haven't given me a clear answer, though. David: [47:21] No, I don't see what going to a meeting like that would do for us at all. I can totally see what it would do for Trump, landing an appearance that the tech industry is bowing to him and growling in front of him for all sorts of reasons, whether that's tax breaks or repatriation of profits, or whatever else have you. [47:44] No. That's not something...We stand to benefit nothing, and he stands to benefit everything from that appearance. I have absolutely zero interest in helping Trump appear any more as our dear leader than he already does. Kevin: [48:01] Elon Musk is on some type of advisory board. He was in an interview over the last couple of days where when people were criticizing him from opening dialog with Trump, Elon Musk said, "Are you aware of a single case where Trump bowed to protest or media attacks? Better that there are open channels of communication." [48:25] Do you not think that it's for us, for our industry, to have people on the inside overarches perhaps our own value system, and higher purpose, and problems with him and his leadership, and approach to people and life? David: [48:39] Let's go to what Musk himself said. Does Trump generally bow and yield to pressure or reason? No. What do you think, that just because you sit at the table, he's going to bow to your pressure or your reason? Absolutely not. Kevin: [48:56] That's a good point. David: [48:58] In most cases, he's simply going to use that as just another card in his deck for like, "See, there are legitimate entrepreneurs and business people supporting me." He can spin any photo op at a table as, "Musk is on Team Trump." [49:19] Why would you want to lend him that legitimacy when your odds of actually altering the course of his actions is so faint? That doesn't seem like a good play to me. Not to go full Goodman on it, but I think that appeasement strategy isn't the wisest. [49:39] Maybe that's a wise move on North Korea when they sit on nuclear launch codes that can annihilate South Korea, but I don't think that that really applies in this situation. This calamity that Trump might exact on the world, I don't think you're going to be the bit that changes that one way or the other. [50:02] I think that through his actions and through his campaign, he's clearly shown that not only does he have zero loyalty to the people who stumped for him or growl for him, he just does whatever the fuck he wants. [50:18] If you're at that table appearing as his advisor, you're then also complicit for the actions that he chooses to take. If you have a seat at that table, then you must also own the actions that come out of it. I don't think Musk is interested in owning most of the actions that come out of the Trump administration. I don't think any reasonable person would be. Kevin: [50:41] You had quite a public Twitter discussion with Sam Altman from Y Combinator. Peter Thiel is a part-time partner at Y Combinator. You had quite a public discussion with Sam Altman about how Y Combinator should take Peter Thiel to task for being such an outspoken supporter of Trump. [51:01] Where do you stand on it now? Do you still maintain that they should have done something, should still do something? David: [51:06] Absolutely. It's completely hypocritical of both Sam Altman and Paul Graham to be these champions of how horrible Trump is. The language that both -- the whole thing started with Paul Graham, but then Paul Graham blocked me after we had a few back-and-forths on Twitter, so the discussion moved to Sam Altman. [51:30] Both of them were echoing this end-of-the-world narrative. If Trump becomes president, Sam Altman has all sorts of quotes saying there are some parallels here to the 1930s, basically insinuating that this is the next coming of Hitler. [51:49] Paul Graham, on the same line, was talking all of this stuff about resistance and resistance movements and whatever else have you. I think you cannot have it both ways. You cannot, on the one hand, think that Trump is a grave and unique threat to democracy and the world at large and, at the same time, be business partners with one of the key members of his team. [52:14] That is completely incompatible. It's like Winston Churchill saying, "Hitler's the worst thing ever, and by the way, Goebbels and me are just going to go play tennis after tea." What? Are you kidding me? That's just not compatible -- through your own choosing. [52:31] If they had not been on the drums about Trump being this unique, dangerous evil, then fine, do whatever you want. Just don't talk out both sides of your mouth. Kevin: [52:42] You feel that hypocrisy was a problem there. Is it also a problem that Peter Thiel was a part-time partner? If it was a staff member of theirs, is it less of an issue? How does a company deal with the diversity of opinions to elected leaders or a president-elect? It is actually quite a difficult issue. David: [53:04] Yes. If you see it in the abstract and if you equate all sorts of support with just support in general, then perhaps it's hard and abstract. It's not so hard and abstract in this case. Peter Thiel is the single largest donor to the Trump campaign, or at least was when he donated more than a million dollars to the campaign, at a critical time, just after Trump had been outed as mister pussy-grabber. [53:29] Not only did Thiel double down on his support after Trump had been shown in one of his more vile moments. He was also a keynote speaker at the convention. He's now part of the transition team. He's in the inner circle. [53:45] This isn't just some person who's disgruntled with politics at large and says, "Hey, fuck it, I'm going to vote for Trump," or even goes to a Trump rally or whatever else have you. This is a key member of the Trump team. [53:57] I don't think it's really fair to equate some average employee that might hold a certain political view with a billionaire that's spending millions of dollars on the Trump campaign, is part of the inner circle of the team, and is not even a paid employee of Y Combinator. [54:19] There was a lot of this muddling of the waters to make it seem as though this discussion was about, oh, should employers persecute their employees for their political views? Of course, I think no, they shouldn't. [54:33] This isn't that at all. If we can't hold billionaires who spend millions of their money and join the inner circle of Trump accountable for their actions, then, I mean, where the hell are we? Kevin: [54:48] What about Peter Thiel being a board member of Facebook? Any conflict of interest there? David: [54:53] Huge conflict of interest, and I think that's just as bad. The difference, to some extent, was that Mark Zuckerberg wasn't on the fucking barricades shouting about how Trump was this unique, dangerous evil every day on Twitter, right, as both Sam Altman and Paul Graham were. [55:14] The stench of hypocrisy was just so great in those two cases that I thought, hey, here's an easy place to start. If we can't even get people who, as I said, view Trump as this unique, dangerous element to democracy and the world to disengage from their billionaire partners, who, according to themselves, are only coming a few hours a week to do part-time work, then truly you guys are willing to sacrifice nothing for what you believe. Kevin: [55:45] David, I could talk to you for ages, but I know time's ticking along. Just one more question. I know you had a Quora Q&A recently. I read through some of those answers, and you said that B2B SaaS is only in the early stages of evolution. [56:04] If someone's listening to this podcast, they want to take the Basecamp route of just sidestepping VC and the complexities and the hype and everything, what are some tips for someone that's maybe in their early 20s, maybe is a coder, maybe is not a coder, after a nice, sustainable business, and quite potentially open to the sanity of the B2B space as opposed to the consumer craziness? David: [56:31] Sure. I think, first of all, is that you must educate yourself and train yourself to become a builder. If you want to build something sustainable and not take other people's money, that means you have to build it yourself. [56:42] You have to teach yourself a skill, whether that's programming or design or anything else that is core and essential to starting a software business. That's never been easier. That doesn't mean it's easy. Just means it's never been easier, and it's never been cheaper either. [56:58] There's an endless amount of information and tutorials and so on available for teaching yourself both programming and design. Once you then have those skills, you're able to invest the one thing that you will have a fair supply of that you can do with as you please, which is your own time. [57:18] Even if you maintain a full-time job or you're studying or whatever, you will have time on the side to start a side project. Then I encourage you to find some pain in either your own direct sphere of things that you touch or things you've been exposed to. [57:37] Or friends or family or someone else who have been complaining bitterly about either some process that they're trying to do or some shitty software that they're being forced to use, and start from there. Start from that epicenter of pain. [57:51] If you can alleviate that pain through development of software for just that one person or a small group, well, then you're on the right track. It doesn't actually take that much. The great thing about selling to businesses is that if you sell something that's sure to solve some problem for them, they're more than willing to pay for it. [58:09] You can certainly get someone to pay you a hundred dollars a month for a piece of software that solves some material pain for them. You know what? You don't have to collect that many customers paying you a hundred dollars a month before, all of a sudden, you're making a million dollars a year, right? [58:26] Do the math on that. We're talking about just getting a few hundred customers. That is very, very different from breaking through in the consumer space, where these days hundreds of thousands of users is nothing. [58:37] You need to have tens of millions, if not preferably hundreds of millions, of people using your consumer app before there is anything there, right? They're just on completely different ends of the scale. [58:50] The end of the scale that is getting tens first and then getting hundreds and then perhaps a few thousand customers is completely achievable through your own means of personal selling, personal marketing, personally building an audience, and personally building what you need to build to sell something to people. [59:10] There's just a self-sufficiency in targeting business software that I find uniquely appealing. Then it also just helps, for me personally, I just really enjoy it. I really enjoy helping businesses become more efficient. Kevin: [59:25] You grew up in the lower middle class of Denmark, Copenhagen. Do you sometimes lie in bed at night and pinch yourself? You're living in Mubea, Spain. You've got a multi-million-dollar business. You work with Jeff Bezos. Do you sometimes think, "Wow, this has worked out"? David: [59:39] I do. I'm very grateful for what has happened over the past 10 years. At the same time, more often than not, I actually don't lie in bed thinking about all of the blessings I've had. I think, hey, do you know what? If I lost all of this, if I lost being able to live in Mubea, if I lost being able to race cars, I'd still be all right. [60:04] I'd still be able to do many of the things that I enjoy most in this world, including programming, which, at least as long as I have my hands and am able to see and code, I can enjoy one of the key things that I enjoy in this world. [60:20] I use, actually, negative visualization more as a technique to have fulfillment and have trust that, even if all this should go away, even if that million-dollar business should go bankrupt tomorrow through some calamity, then my life will still be just fine. Kevin: [60:42] Fantastic. David Heinemeier Hansson, really enjoyed chatting with you. So much to talk about. There's so much of my notes that I didn't even touch, but that's what happens when it's a good conversation. Good luck with it all, and thanks for joining us on the podcast. David: [60:56] Thanks again for having me. Kevin: [60:57] David, thank you so much. That was fantastic. Really appreciate your candid answers and making yourself available. I'll let you know when it's up. David: [61:08] Excellent. I'll point to it when it is. Thank you. Kevin: [61:10] Thanks a lot. Have a good day. David: [61:13] You, too. Bye. Kevin: [61:13] Bye-bye. [61:14] [commercial break starts] [61:14] [barking dog] Announcer: [61:17] The It's A Monkey podcast is brought to you by CheckDog. Use CheckDog to easily review and monitor your website for spelling errors, broken links, and broken images, all with the push of one button. [61:31] CheckDog can also automatically monitor your website and notify you of newly introduced spelling errors. Go to CheckDog.com/podcast to receive 50 percent off your first month's subscription. CheckDog.com. Helping the world's leading websites keep their content error-free. [61:50] [barking and howling dogs] [61:50] [commercial break ends] Kevin: [61:56] David's such a smart guy and I felt I could have spoken to him for a long, long time. He's come a long way from growing up in the lower-middle class end of Copenhagen to leading definitely one of the most well-known tech companies... Kate: [62:13] Yeah, definitely. Kevin: [62:15] and having Jeff Bezos invest in your -- or as he said, not invest per se but buy out some equity in their company is a huge vote of confidence. [62:26] I think it's very useful having people like himself, David, and his business partner, Jason Fried from Basecamp, that are trying to push another narrative around tech startups, because there is this really loud narrative that dominates the press or the Silicon Valley narrative of "raise money, spend a lot of money to try and create a lot of money, and then get an exit or list or some other liquidity event." [62:59] Where it's useful that these guys are saying something else is that not everyone's got the opportunity to go to Silicon Valley. Not everyone's got the pedigree to pitch to these intimidating, super-smart venture capital people, and saying, "Look, people have succeeded in all variety of ways. Don't get hoodwinked by the one narrative." [63:23] That being said, as usual, the truth, I believe, is in the middle somewhere, and a lot of successful companies, like the Googles, like the Facebooks, like the WhatsApps, have raised money from venture capital funds as well. [63:38] Basecamp's an outlier. Basecamp's not the norm and they obviously are very smart guys. They were lucky enough to find the synergistic fit between them and they could create something on a shoestring that touched a nerve. [63:58] For most people to deliver that amount with just two or three or four people is hard. Most people have to raise money and do it with a bit of a bigger team and a bit of a longer runway. Kate: [64:07] Yeah. I think he mentioned too that he liked the idea of keeping it small and friendly, not buying themselves out, if you know what I mean. Selling out. Kevin: [64:19] Yeah, I think it's different models. There's pros and cons. A lot of businesspeople -- entrepreneurs, I should say -- would like the opportunity to lead and manage even more people. Some wouldn't. We're a small-ish team of about 13 or so. If it so happened I wouldn't mind leading a company of a few thousand for the experience. Kate: [64:46] You don't think eventually you'd start... Kevin: [64:51] It'd be intense. [laughs] Kate: [64:52] You wouldn't know everyone. Kevin: [64:55] No, you wouldn't. I think that's the point it would become tricky. I think probably at around a hundred people, 80 people, it would be hard to know everyone. I think up until that point you can probably at least know them by face and a little bit... Kate: [65:10] You could probably manage a couple hundred. If you think about your class in high school there's probably, what, a hundred, 200 people, and you still knew all their names. Kevin: [65:20] That's true. That's true. What was interesting, to take the left turn, we spoke about Peter Thiel and about the conflict of interest that David says -- because Peter Thiel's on the board of Facebook. [65:37] When I interviewed David last Thursday, which was Australia Day in Australia, the 25th, even at that stage, very, very few people, tech people, had spoken publicly about Trump. Kate: [65:50] Had they met with him yet? Kevin: [65:52] Yes, they had. Peter Thiel was outspoken in his support for Trump and had donated money to his campaign. Trump had invited Sheryl Sandberg, Elon Musk, the top tier of tech people to New York and they met with him, but none of them really released any statements, as far as I can remember. [66:15] This is how fast the world moves these days. Even last Thursday when I chatted to David, which is just less than a week ago, I wasn't even sure if we should chat about it. There still seemed to be quite a clear separation of tech and politics. [66:31] I think a lot of the tech leaders met with Trump because they're leaders of big companies and they have to work with whatever government's in place. They have to work with them. Apple -- Tim Cook was there as well. [66:45] Obviously, David...we spoke about that -- Trump, and David's obviously got very strong feelings about it. Then on Friday when Trump put that executive order and all hell broke loose and suddenly the tech press and the political press sort of merged into one. [67:06] Mark Zuckerberg wrote something. Sheryl Sandberg. Max too I see wrote something. There was a whole hoo-ha with Uber getting involved inadvertently with the taxis on strike and then Uber was seen as trying to break the strike, which I don't believe is really fair. [67:26] Long story short, suddenly every single tech company under the sun is releasing a statement around diversity and immigration. It's amazing the difference that six days make. Kate: [67:38] Yeah. They started off...they don't want to shoot themselves in the foot. They've got to tread carefully, because ultimately the president can make or break some of their businesses. Eventually it becomes personal and it starts to affect their employees and I think they have to speak out. They have to say something. Kevin: [67:59] I think there's a line, and also because in our industry...I've walked around Google's campus in Mountain View and the diversity is the first thing you notice. It is anything but monoculture. You literally see a group of people walking towards you and you literally... [68:20] On the face of it, obviously you can't tell exactly where they're from but you get the feeling that it's from all corners of the world. Our industry, even in our small company, we've had and we have people from all four corners of the globe, so it hits us personally very quickly, this particular issue more than any. Kate: [68:41] There's no company without employees, so they have to stand by them and support them, if they want to keep their business together. Kevin: [68:52] I think Sergei Brin, who was one of the founders of Google, and Sam Altman, who's from Y Combinator, who we spoke about with David, they were both seen at San Francisco airport protests and photos were taken of "They even went to the protests. Had feet on the ground." [69:12] Anyway, it's interesting times. David was one of the first to be that outspoken. I mean, I remember the Twitter fight he had with some of the Y Combinator guys. He took a very specific line. Yeah, we'll see what plays out at the end of the day, these companies have to work with. [69:38] I think it's quite hard for companies like Uber, and to a lesser degree, Google, and Facebook, that don't only work indirectly with the government, sometimes they work directly with them. Kate: [69:49] Isn't Elon Musk wanting to work directly with Trump? Kevin: [69:53] Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, I believe, are on his, some board, some tech board of advisors. No, I don't know if it's...Yeah, Peter Thiel and also, I think, Travis Kalanick, I think that's how you pronounce his name, from Uber, I think, is on that board as well. Kate: [70:11] OK. Kevin: [70:11] You can see it both ways, I mean, regardless of what you think of him as a leader, to have influence over him surely can be a good thing. Right? Kate: [70:21] Yeah, I mean, it's ultimately better for all the tech companies if they've got like-minded people in there advising him. Kevin: [70:28] Yeah. You can see it two ways, other people say, "Well, you've got to have to be principled." Anyway, David was, I really enjoyed chatting with him. I'm hoping maybe in a few months we can get him back and talk. We didn't even touch upon, their team is predominantly remote. [70:46] David's written a book about remote work. We're going to put a link to all his Medium articles and his books, because they're all really interesting. I'll put them on the show notes, that's on show notes at itsamonkey.com. [70:57] I never got around to asking him about leadership and managing in a remote team, which I think is very interesting for a lot of people. Kate: [71:08] Even just the process of iteration. I think earlier last year they released Basecamp 3. At the moment, I know I still use Basecamp 2, because I prefer it, only because I don't need all the new features. It's interesting that they've had that iteration and process and they still open up old versions, as well. Kevin: [71:27] Yeah, so I think I'd like to chat to him a little bit more about the product development side of things, the team leadership side of things. Because they're obviously doing a huge amount right, and if they seem to have zillions of customers and so, being around for a long time. [71:47] They do get a lot of the polish right. Everything from their site to their product. Kate: [71:52] Yeah, I share all sorts of files, notes, briefs, all in Basecamp. It's a great place to sort of organize...It's its own file system, to be honest. You can separate projects, separate people into different, into those different projects, share files, everything, it's great. Kevin: [72:10] I think it was one of the first systems, as well, the way you could include external customers into the system, which is really useful. It was really the first system that...I remember just, it was the first time I saw the concept of not using email as a project management tool. Let's get it out of email. [72:31] What I love about our business now, is that we don't really use email, right, internally. Kate: [72:37] No. Kevin: [72:37] Hardly ever, right? It's either Slack, Yammer, JIRA, Basecamp, right, between those four. Kate: [72:42] It's good to keep things in one place, organized and somewhere that everyone involved can access it. Kevin: [72:55] Yes. Kate: [72:55] Even people in the future that need to be involved later on, they can access it too. Kevin: [73:00] Yeah, and whereas email is just, email's not good for that. Kate: [73:05] Most information. Kevin: [73:05] Yeah. I mean, email, I see its ideal thing is just to reach out externally and set up meetings or catch ups with people externally. That's it. Anything that's an elaborate project or any complicated communication or documents, another system, project management system. Kate: [73:23] Yeah. I think it's all right one to one, if you had just an email conversation with one person. As soon as you've got more than two people involved, it gets super confusing. If you forget to reply all and you only reply to one and then there's gaps, it's just a bit of a mess. Kevin: [73:39] I've got a friend who owns an accounting business and he's not very tech savvy. He's not bad but he's not very tech savvy. He's like, "I keep on telling my assistant to CC me on everything she sends out." [73:52] I said to him, "Mate, firstly you should ask your system administrator. There's other tools. But you should not be using email in that way," it's just not, you can't rely on humans to do that. He wants to see everything that goes out to the client, so. [74:07] If you're listening to this podcast, and you're anything more than a one man band, one person band, have a look at Trello, JIRA, Basecamp, they're all really, really good. Anyway, that's Episode 29, done and dusted. Kate: [74:26] 79. Kevin: [74:26] Did I say 29? Kate: [74:28] Yeah. Kevin: [74:28] Oh, man. This is what happens when you cram so much in your brain, your brain starts doing quirky things. Kate: [74:40] Your mush. Kevin: [74:41] Episode 79. Kate: [74:42] Yeah. Kevin: [74:42] Go to itsamonkey.com to listen to some of the old episodes. We're going to come back to you with Episode 80 this time next week. We love feedback. Send an email to email@example.com. [74:57] If you're a small business or a startup and you want to get free publicity, send us a 30 second clip about your business. We'll play it on the podcast in the startup minutes. Until next week, I hope you are well, hope you enjoyed the podcast and thank you very much to my co-host, Kate Frappell. Kate: [75:15] See you later. [75:16] [music] **** Please note that this is a transcript of the unedited version of this Podcast Episode. Timings and content will vary from the audio version.