A culture war between founders and employees at the software firm is a reminder that new industries aren’t any more caring than older ones are. This morning’s Observer column:
Basecamp is a plucky little (57-person) tech company that makes useful and imaginative project-management software and innovative email software. Or, rather, it was until a fortnight ago, when it suddenly became embroiled in a traumatic internal row between its employees and its two cofounders, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, a row that has transformed Basecamp into a much smaller company bearing the scars of collateral damage from a firefight in the culture wars.
Although Basecamp is a minnow in the world of tech giants, what happened there reflects what is already commonplace in its bigger counterparts. This is because, at base, the company’s internal dissension highlighted that the conflict was actually between the sociopathic imperatives of a corporation and the feelings of skilled employees concerned about the racism and sexism that is endemic in both US society and in an industry that for decades pretended that it was above such sordid concerns.
The first indication to the outside world that something was awry came on Monday 26 April when Fried, the company’s CEO, published a blogpost entitled “Changes at Basecamp”…