Tech startup that banned political discussion turns out to have maintained internal list of funny names to laugh at

Originally published at: Tech startup that banned political discussion turns out to have maintained internal list of funny names to laugh at | Boing Boing


Picard Facepalm GIF by MOODMAN


My Son’s start up employ now insist on referring to the Covid19/Pandemic as the “inconvenience” in all communications/memos, I shit you not…

I’m very happy he’s leaving there as soon as possible.


Yikes. While “1984” gets a lot of lip-service this sounds like something straight out of “Brazil”.


That sounds like a dainty (white) Southerner tiptoeing around the Civil War.


@Papasan @schneems

“What happened to Gary, in accounting?”

“Didn’t you hear, he was inconvenienced Sunday evening. His widow has a gofundme page to help with his relocation.”


let me guess, was that description possibly written by a white person? because it’s usually only wypipo who make the words “felt like” and “innocent” do such heavy lifting.


Basecamp spokesperson Hugh Jass refused to comment.


That’s like Brits in the post-war period calling the fight against Nazi Germany “the recent unpleasantness”, except without the dry ironic undertone.

Basecamp’s cack-handed and barn-door-wide-open way of dealing with this embarrassing list betrays corporate incompetence and an incursion of HR Culture similar to that of your son’s employer.


Working at a hospital a few decades ago we had something similar, but it was literally just people with names from horror movies or puns similar to the Simpsons (e.g. Brew Coffey).


it feels wrong to describe a company that’s been around more than twenty years as a “startup”.

they’ve been around long enough that ive even got a book on software companies by one of the basecamp founders on my shelf.

that book ive got speaks really well about being customer focused while keeping a company small, paying everyone well and retaining a team for the long haul. it was a refreshing read given the typical software crede of raising huge sums of money to increase perceived value, selling the company ( and the customer data ) to the highest bidder, cashing out, retiring young

at the same time, it never ever mentions diversity, even of gender. and it definitely comes off as a young, sneakered, white person culture

it doesn’t reflect well at all on them that the response was - hey everyone, don’t talk to each other about this.

you only do that when you know there’s a real problem that you’re unwilling to solve

[ edit ] after reading that blog post by the founder where he “outlaws” discussions of social justice - it’s clear he doesn’t understand that people are talking about these things because it affects their lives. he describes the conversations as “optional”, right next to farmer’s market benefits. it’s the very definition of unexamined privilege.


Can we use “incovidienced”, though?


Came here to say the same. In fact, seeing as how Basecamp the product hasn’t really evolved much lately and seems to be coasting on legacy subs, I’d say they’re middle-aged at least.

Rework really helped transform my thinking as a manager; or rather, it confirmed the things I felt were right but directly in conflict with the dominant work culture I was surrounded by. It was all about executive and managerial culture and how it impacts the workforce. It is pretty “productivity” focused, which is often interpreted as grinding every drop of blood out of employees and establishing metrics that don’t account for aptitudes, background or interpersonal issues which is one reason it tends to reward young single white males. I don’t remember a thing about greater social implications at all.

It did give me solid arguments for saying no to people, though!


I’ve been watching this play out over the last few days. It’s been pretty amazing to see how Basecamp has been trying to manage their initial statement (including heavily editing the post) while all these stories emerge. The founders (or at least one of them) seems to be doing a good job on his own making it worse.

Lots of people are pretty surprised given the work Basecamp has done over the years to improve the workplace (like the books being mentioned here), while others aren’t surprised that a tech company is completely disconnected from reality the way they seem to be.


I had to refresh my memory about what basecamp is. It used to be 37signals and was the shop that invented ("") Ruby on Rails.

So they also gave us such maxims as “Convention over configuration” and “The menu is omakase”.


All the people praising their work on office culture miss the fact that Basecamp does not consider diversity and inclusion as parts of workplace culture.

I have friends working there who are embroiled in this, and the company is basically banning efforts to improve their legendarily poor D&I. An employee group formed to try and work on it because management wouldn’t, and that group was ordered to disband. They are reacting as most tech bros do, by choosing not to talk about it. Of course, “just not talking about difficult things at work” is an immense privilege that only straight cis white men get. The rest of us can’t “avoid” the things for which we are being discriminated against.

Basecamp’s internal culture is really no different than most bro-run tech companies. Everything is great if you’re straight, cis, white, and male.


That’s what I’ve been seeing, too. Almost every defender of this has been from a white guy who thinks he’s got a controversial take on this by supporting what was said. I’ve seen people saying it’s helping them create a list of folks to never work for.

Best thing I’ve heard around this in the last couple of days have been along the lines of, “It’s nice that you can consider this uncomfortable politics to avoid talking about and not family history.” That really drove the point home for me.


Eugene Levy Shrug GIF by Vanity Fair


I stole that name for my nom de e-mail on one account.


I remember really liking Basecamp when I was an office worker/team manager as a way to get a handle on various projects and responsibilities. It only worked when everyone was on board, otherwise it just became another task for following up on.

Then I realized that I’d rather do just about any other job than work in an office ever again, and my life has consistently improved ever since.