secretleaders | Basecamp: The One Stop Shop For Remote Working

Basecamp: The One Stop Shop For Remote Working

If you created one of the world’s most popular programming frameworks, a framework on which hundreds of thousands of programmers rely to build applications such as Github, Shopify, Airbnb, Kickstarter, to name but a few, would you make it open source?

Because that’s what David Heinemeier Hansson decided to do.

DHH (to his friends and everyone on Twitter) is the creator of Ruby on Rails. But that’s not all he’s done. He’s also the cofounder and CTO at Basecamp. Oh, and he’s a best-selling author and a Le Mans class-winning racing driver. When he’s not busy doing those things you can find him spouting off on Twitter (and only Twitter – he’s not on FB, LinkedIn or Insta).

Basecamp is an all in one toolkit for working remotely. Founded in 1999 as a small company of 4 it has since, 21 years later, grown into an international organisation with over 50 employees, spread around the world. Everyone who works at Basecamp is free to live and work wherever they want. In fact, DHH and co-founder Jason Fried are such huge advocates of remote working, they wrote a book on it.

And in these trying times, where the whole world has been forced to work from home for the last four months, David isn’t smug, he’s not said ‘I told you so’ while pedaling Basecamp. What he wants is to save the smug tea and just enjoy the liberation, and welcome as many people as possible to remote working.

“I would like more people to enjoy the spoils of a remote work life. That’s the camp I’m in because that’s what I live. And I look at people who don’t have access to that – there are people who commute for an hour or two to get to their office to sit in front of a computer all day. It makes no sense, neither economically, ecologically, or humanly, it just doesn’t make any sense.”

We chat about:

  • How Ruby on Rails came about
  • Why he trod the entrepreneur path
  • The inspiration behind Basecamp (or 37 Signals)
  • Working remotely with Basecamp
  • The impact of the pandemic on our attitudes to remote working
  • The drawbacks of remote working


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The Secret Leaders podcast features interviews with key figures from the UK tech and creative ecosystem. From entrepreneurs (both early and latter stage), to journalists, VCs - and even royalty - the series profiles those who have helped shape the nation's culture of innovation and growth.

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