Wondering this morning what parallels can be drawn between Musk’s takeover of Twitter and the Great Basecamp Upheaval of 2021.

Feels like in both cases management decided it was time to stop “playing nice”, and an era came to an end. Both marked a rightwing-ward shift. What else?

Both changes were possible because ownership and management were consolidated with no board of directors, and no organized labor force.

@gosha also both possible in the US in part because of “at will” employment law

@cpalmieri These are both great points! I don't remember — was anyone actually fired from Basecamp? I thought people kind of basically left in protest.

@gosha I don’t remember, but if you work in the US, I imagine At Will feels like one layer of the soft ground everyone is standing on at these moments, along with the health care layer…

@cpalmieri That totally makes sense, yes. I wonder what happened to Twitter's european workers whom Musk fired by email — you can't really do that in Europe!

@gosha I don't know enough about Basecamp at all to even know there was an upheaval

@gosha but I'm curious -- what's the goal of finding events similar enough for you to consider it a patten?

@dualhammers I don't know if there's such a goal and I don't know if there actually is a pattern. As a tech worker, this trend (if there is one) makes me worry about my future ability to support my family, and I am especially curious since the companies involved are ones I used to think highly of — especially Basecamp, which was a dream job for me as an engineer working with Ruby on Rails (a framework created at Basecamp).

@gosha I don't know you at all, so take this advice with that context, but it might be better to begin with an exploration of labor theory and the capital relationship to labor.

Basecamp and Musk's moves map very nicely to the general trend that capital will always prioritize changes that they believe contribute to the stability of profit making. Their goal is, inevitably, to grow profits and to grow their share of it.

If you want some book suggestions I can definitely recommend them

@gosha I agree with you that you should be worried about your ability to support your family. The same trend that has happened to factory workers, manual laborers, delivery people, and low-level healthcare workers will, inevitably, happen to programmers unless we change the actual political economy of our society

@dualhammers Thank you for that perspective! I would be happy for a book recommendation.

@gosha if I come across or remember any others I want to suggest I'll let you know.


@gosha I struggle to see a right-wing shift in the Basecamp reform. I fully supported DHH in that move.


@creitve Maybe I missed something, but what I remember from the event is that the owners-managers suddenly cracked down on a company culture that they appeared to support (according to their books, blogs, etc) but were in fact not prepared to tolerate when it affected one of their friends (Ryan Singer) negatively. I also remember reports of DHH spending the crisis zoom call with employees on mute and with the camera off.


@gosha My general view is that *arbitrarily large* groups of *strangers* are incapable of discussing topics of emotional investment unless their views are 100% aligned. Anything less is a time-bomb in terms of predictability for the managers and stakeholders. So while the supposed preferential treatment and distasteful jokes do leave an aftertaste (they could do better), owners do not have a choice but to fortify the foundation against internal and external randomness of group mentality.


@creitve I don't disagree with your statement of the problem, but the chosen solution was implemented by the owners/managers as a binary choice given to workers: take it or leave it. This kind of authoritarianism and reassertion of a clear distinction between the owners and the employees is what feels like a rightwing-ward shift to me.


@gosha I see, well, it was surely authoritarian — there is an additional dimension to "rightness" when comparing to the birdsite situation. But yes, I see your point clearer now.
I'm not sure if they could've handled the severance part better, though. Schedule 1-on-1s and explain to people that there is a reason to refrain from discussing things while the whole web is full of "silence is opression" messaging? Soft skills only go so far. And that paycheck was very good for U.S., it seems.


@creitve As far as handling the policy change, it might have been less hard if they hadn't spent the previous decade writing books & blog posts about how important it is to "bring your whole self to work" and other things antithetical to their new policy. There was an implicit (but strongly implied) social contract, and the owners/managers broke it.


@gosha I'd have to return to their books then and check then, had those on my list. It's been ages since I've first read Rework.

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