Following a controversial ban on political discussions earlier this week, Basecamp officials are heading for exits. The company employs about 60 people and it appears that approximately one-third of the company has accepted a buyout to leave, with many citing new company policies.
On Monday, Basecamp CEO Jason Fried announced in a blog post that employees would no longer be allowed to openly share their “public and political discussions” at work.
“Any discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy or society as a whole is quickly separated from the pleasant,” Fried writes. “You shouldn’t wonder if staying away from it means you̵
Basecamp departures are significant. According to Twitter posts, all design managers, marketing and customer support managers at Basecamp will leave. It seems that the company’s iOS team has also left en masse, and many outgoing employees have been with the company for years.
The no-policy rule in Basecamp follows a similar position set by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong late last year. Armstrong also condemned the debate over “causes or political candidates”, arguing that such discussions distract from the company’s core business. About 60 members of Coinbase’s 1,200 employees have taken buyouts in light of a change in domestic policy – a ratio that makes the move to Basecamp look even more dramatic.
Like Coinbase, Basecamp was immediately criticized for snubbing its employees on important issues, many of which disproportionately affect marginalized employees.
The demarcation of “political” topics becomes murky very quickly for all non-white or LGBTQ employees, for whom many issues that in some circles can be seen as political in nature – such as the Black Lives movement – are inseparable. and deeply personal. It is no coincidence that these spectacular positions against divisive “politics” at work are inferior to white male technical managers.
“If you doubt whether your choice of forum or topic of discussion is appropriate, please ask before posting,” Basecamp CTO David Heinmeier Hanson wrote in his own blog post, echoing Fried.
According to Platformer, Fried’s message does not tell the whole story. Instead, Basecamp officials said the tension arose from internal talks about the company itself and its commitment to the work of the DEI, rather than from free arguments for political candidates. Fried’s blog post mentions a specific source of tension in a roundabout way, citing a staff-led DEI initiative that will be disbanded.
“We make project management software, team communication and email,” Fried writes. “We are not a social impact company.”