Software Company Basecamp Rejects Woke Capitalism

Basecamp CEO Jason Fried
Rex Hammock/Flickr

Software company Basecamp announced on Monday that it will remain focused on developing project management software, rejecting Silicon Valley’s wave of high-tech woke capitalism. A blog post from Basecamp’s CEO says it will not be participating in “societal and political discussions,” adding, “we are not a social impact company.”

“No more societal and political discussions on our company Basecamp account,” the company’s co-founder and CEO Jason Fried wrote in a blog post, titled, “Changes at Basecamp.”

Fried added that “every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy, or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant.”

“It saps our energy, and redirects our dialog towards dark places. It’s not healthy, it hasn’t served us well,” the CEO affirmed.

The company’s co-founder and chief technology officer David Hansson added in a separate blog post that “Basecamp should be a place where employees can come to work with colleagues of all backgrounds and political convictions without having to deal with heavy political or societal debates unconnected to that work.”

“You shouldn’t have to wonder if staying out of it means you’re complicit, or stepping into it means you’re a target. That is difficult enough outside of work, but almost impossible at work,” Hansson continued.

“By trying to have the debates around such incredibly sensitive societal politics inside the company, we’re setting ourselves up for strife, with little chance of actually changing anyone’s mind,” he added.

“We also like to tell ourselves that having these discussions with the whole company is ‘healthy,'” Hansson said. “I used to think that too, but I no longer do. I think it’s become ever more stressful, unnerving, and counterproductive.”

Among the changes at Basecamp, Fried added that there will be “no more paternalistic benefits,” as “it’s not Basecamp’s place to encourage certain behaviors.”

Fried elaborated:

For years we’ve offered a fitness benefit, a wellness allowance, a farmer’s market share, and continuing education allowances. They felt good at the time, but we’ve had a change of heart. It’s none of our business what you do outside of work, and it’s not Basecamp’s place to encourage certain behaviors — regardless of good intention.

By providing funds for certain things, we’re getting too deep into nudging people’s personal, individual choices. So we’ve ended these benefits, and, as compensation, paid every employee the full cash value of the benefits for this year.

Other changes listed included “no more committees,” “no more lingering or dwelling on past decisions,” “no more 360 reviews, ” and “no forgetting what we do here.”

“We make project management, team communication, and email software,” the CEO wrote. “We are not a social impact company. Our impact is contained to what we do and how we do it.”

“We don’t have to solve deep social problems, chime in publicly whenever the world requests our opinion on the major issues of the day, or get behind one movement or another with time or treasure,” he added. “These are all important topics, but they’re not our topics at work — they’re not what we collectively do here.”

“We’re in the business of making software, and a few tangential things that touch that edge,” the CEO affirmed. “We’re responsible for ourselves. That’s more than enough for us.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler @alana, and on Instagram.

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