Interview with Basecamp’s David Heinemeier Hansson
Zincubate’s editorial staff recently had the opportunity to talk about some of the updates from some of the leading project management software providers, including Basecamp Co-Founder David Heinemeier Hansson.
One of the more recent rollouts sat Basecamp was originally touted as “Basecamp Next.” This major upgrade to user interface was accompanied by the transition from www.basecamphq.com to www.basecamp.com.
Hansson remarked that one of the main advantages to Basecamp is that it is “simpler than almost all of them [project management software]. The key feature of Basecamp is that it’s not a project to learn. Anyone can do it.”
Pricing at Basecamp remains at a low $20 per month for the startup plan, but there is also a “long free trial for users who want to kick the tires, wait, and then come back and kick the tires again. “We don’t believe in the participation tax, so there’s no per-user prices.”
As project management masters, Hansson depicted a lean company where core development is key. “We are 35 people at the company and intend to stay as small as we can.” Many project management companies begin to add layers of management that make internal process management onerous. In keeping his company light and agile, he is able to be agile and control the rollout of features that users are asking for.
And there are users, alright. Hansson offered an “8 million” user count off the cuff. His Chicago based company has customers and staff located throughout the world. You would never have guessed what Hansson considers one of his biggest global competitors.
“The biggest competition we have is email. Email is the simplest way to run projects and the tool that most people use. That’s what we’re up against.”
It is an unfair fight, but among the tools that Hansson’s team brings to the table internally (as well as offering as a consumer product line) is Campfire. Basecamp’s suite of software formally included Backpackit.com, but that line has been shelved in an apparent attempt to streamline company offerings. Campfire is not one of those that has been absorbed. “Campfire is key” for Basecamp to operate and remains one of the cornerstone product lines.
Ostensibly taking his cues from Steve Jobs, Hansson explained that the hardest part of his job is “continuing to say no to all the good ideas we come up with in order to keep the product simple.” But that’s an important feature of Basecamp and reasonably in line with what they have been doing for the past eight years they’ve been in business.
“We intend to go for another 30,” he added, but he wouldn’t share any new features that are in the pipeline to be released. There are lots of new features coming out soon, “but we don’t discuss them until they’re ready to be released. That way we can change our mind if something turns out not to be good enough.”
That kind of poker playing in the tech industry is what keeps Basecamp among the leading project management cloud software companies. Keep your eyes peeled for future releases.