On March 7 at 4:30 a.m. Greenwich mean time, a tech company’s worst nightmare began. For eight and a half hours, a catastrophic network failure disabled Basecamp’s popular project management software. Instead of boosting productivity for its three million accounts around the world, Basecamp stopped people from getting their work done. “We’re incredibly sorry…especially for our European customers,” wrote co-founder and CTO David Heinemeier Hansson on the company blog. He explained that the problem originated with their cloud provider, took full responsibility, and promised they would work diligently to make sure it never happened again.
But it did—just six days later. This time, Heinemeier Hansson couldn’t apologize enough. “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry (and ashamed),” he told customers. “It’s also been a mighty fall…From riches of reliance to rags of shambles. To say this is humbling is an epic understatement.”
Such a fiasco would cause a crisis in most companies. But for Basecamp, it actually proved a point. Internally, there was no freaking out, no worry about losing jobs. Everybody just hunkered down and focused on fixing the problem; if anyone worked overtime, they came in late the next day, no sleep lost and no questions asked. Heinemeier Hansson and his co-founder, Jason Fried, are two of the loudest critics of the modern Silicon Valley–fueled workaholic