Last week, I was pondering some "infrastructure spend." I have been using Hey for mail, as I wrote here. Finally, the company, Basecamp, had put forward a way that I could use Hey for my own domain. Their implementation meant I would have my address alongside my address, all coming to one instance of the client, nicely colour-coded. I still had nagging concerns about the service - it is unique, and handles certain things differently. However, I felt sure that the more committed I was, the faster I would acclimate.

I have also been testing Basecamp's other product - Basecamp. It's a collaboration tool which appealed to me as a place where I could concentrate communication and task management around projects. Like the e-mail service, it is opinionated and does things its own way. However, Clare and I were getting a routine going - and I felt that the paid version would come in handy, allowing me to centralise disparate endeavours.

Then, Basecamp blew itself up.

At this point, I recommend that if you're not familiar with the story, go Google it, or search Basecamp on Twitter. Views are polarised, and I don't want to send you to one site or another which might be myopic.

My "in a nutshell" view. The CEO issued a memo by means of a public blog post, stating that Basecamp no longer wanted political or societal issues discussed at work. The post was quickly amended to replace "at work" with on "the work basecamp" as Twitter caught fire.

Many were upset and felt that "no politics at work" was in fact code for "no politics that we don't agree with". As the days wore on, more and more information became public and more nuance emerged. The co-founder/CTO issued blog posts of his own. An all hands meeting was held, where a blanket severance package was offered to all employees unable to abide the new policy. 3 months pay for those who had been with the company less than 3 years, and 6 months for longer-serving staff.

At that meeting, it is reported that were heated exchanges and much emotion.

At the time of writing, it is believed that more than a third of the staff have accepted those terms and left and a senior executive has resigned.


I'm not going to get into the politics or societal issues being discussed. I wasn't there. I have never worked at Basecamp. I'm not sure that me throwing around platitudes is going to help anything.

However - as a customer, I see a company tearing itself apart. A third of the staff, including some in senior positions, have left or are leaving. People are evidently very unhappy. I'm not sure I feel confident customer support will be top notch for a little while.

Whatever was going on at Basecamp, the founders elected to deal with it by issuing public statements and then a blanket severance package to any dissenters. Some are discussing whether this is legal. Who cares? It's contemptuous of their colleagues and cataclysmically stupid, whether legal or not.

Even before I consider the political, societal and moral issues raised, it would be bad business not to act. No company can lose a third of its team, including senior positions, and not have its performance adversely affected.

In addition, using a Hey account, or asking a partner to participate in my basecamp has now become a risk for me. Sure, many people will be entirely oblivious to the story, but some won't be. Some will see Basecamp, its products and its founders as toxic.

My mail is out of Hey and my search for collaboration software continues. Spare a thought for the poor people at Nero's, now moving to yet another trial.

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