An unfortunate update on this story.
Basecamp CEO Jason Fried posted his “Changes at Basecamp” post with several key points. Most notably, “1. No more societal and political discussions on our company Basecamp account.”
“Today’s social and political waters are especially choppy. Sensitivities are at 11, and every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy, or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant. You shouldn’t have to wonder if staying out of it means you’re complicit, or wading into it means you’re a target. These are difficult enough waters to navigate in life, but significantly more so at work. It’s become too much. It’s a major distraction. It saps our energy, and redirects our dialog towards dark places. It’s not healthy, it hasn’t served us well. And we’re done with it on our company Basecamp account where the work happens. People can take the conversations with willing co-workers to Signal, Whatsapp, or even a personal Basecamp account, but it can’t happen where the work happens anymore.”
“We make project management, team communication, and email software. We are not a social impact company. Our impact is contained to what we do and how we do it. We write business books, blog a ton, speak regularly, we open source software, we give back an inordinate amount to our industry given our size. And we’re damn proud of it. Our work, plus that kind of giving, should occupy our full attention. 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.”
The critical race theory lefties with their usual media coordination moved to Step 2, resignations and demands for a meeting.
That’s where Basecamp leaders made its critical error by holding an all-hands meeting which became a predictable forum for the internal activists to deploy their talking points and cry about their pain. The activists had critical race theory talking points which the leadership, like most normal people, didn’t even understand. And were caught by surprise.
The activists insisted that employees maintaining a list of funny-sounding names that they encountered was the gateway to ‘genocide’. They zeroed in on a conservative early employee and went after him when he denied that the company was built on white supremacy and that all white people are alike. Instead of ending this political activism, exactly what the founders had set out to do, they hung him out to dry and began apologizing. The founders are busy explaining themselves. And when you’re explaining yourself, you’re in retreat.
The critical error here was trying to use an open forum to discuss policy in a common-sense way without being prepared for what was coming. And then retreating in the face of talking points from an ideology they don’t even understand.
The list of funny names is dumb. But dumb things like that, in the hands of activists allied with the media, can be used to tear a company to shreds.