Getting Past it vs. Moving Past it.

Quick discussion on Basecamp's problems and racist leaders.

A quick note, I usually write my posts and publish. They might be edited 3-10 times by the time you open your email. So click the link instead to read the latest and greatest on the site.

Okay, first skim through this Verge article. It outlines the drama at Basecamp and has a lot of links.


As The Verge later reported, the initial motivation for the letter stemmed from internal disagreement over a controversial list of “funny names” of Basecamp customers. Several of the names on the list, which resurfaced several times over the years and of which management was well aware, were of Asian or African origin. Employees considered their inclusion inappropriate at best, and racist at worst.

Hansson acknowledged the list and tried to move on (you can read his internal communications here), but employees pressed the issue.

In response to this, the founders of Basecamp announced changes at Basecamp.

Can we just get past it?

A little while ago someone was parking in our sole parking space at our centre. I asked them to move, nicely, so that we can park. They weren’t wearing a mask. They didn’t want to move. They kept getting close to me asking me why I’m wearing a mask, where I’ve been, and if I had COVID.

It escalated with them being super racist & Islamophobic. Their adult son came outside to try to see what’s happening. I let them know the racist things their parent said. The son replied to me:

“Okay, but can we just get past that?”.

The conviction is strong.

Hansson of Basecamp wrote more than 2,300 words saying the same thing: “Can we just get past it?”.

Basecamp offered their employees an exit during an all-hands meeting and more than 1/3 of them reportedly accepted and quit. Long standing employees. Engineer teams, marketing, branding, customer service, tenures from 3 years to 15 years, all quit.

Here’s a source to these tweets. Interesting enough, someone’s hot take missed the point completely.

It *is* super interesting a lot of tenured white people chose to publicly exit their company because of their companies’ political neutrality. Maybe some see it as a way to quit their job, protest, get 6 months pay, and then offers to new jobs in the startup world. Who knows.

Political Neutrality, Can we just get past it?

Where is the line drawn as acceptable or unacceptable? Shopify still hosts this Brietbart store:

The same Breitbart that runs BNN, a news network that publishes hot garbage like this:

Shopify is very serious about their non-political neutrality. I haven’t honestly read up on the latest and greatest, looking quickly, it seems that they only took down the former U.S. presidents online shop AFTER the capitol riots. No different than Twitter, and Facebook.

In Iraqi Arabic, we have a saying called “Ug-Baesh”. It translates into: too-little-too-late + like-after-what. As if the action is so superficial it doesn’t do anything. Like planting 1000 trees after burning down a continent. Or sending aid to Iraq after bombing and occupying it.

I feel I can get past it

I feel can get past it, yes? I’d like to choose the same route as the Basecamp ex-employees, that decided they wouldn’t like to be part of neutrality. In moving on with life and continuing to build past it.

I remember speaking to folks like Satish at Shopify, and watching others like Robleh get acquired into the same organization that supports organizations that foster hate through neutrality, and still does. I remember the second designer I’d ever hired wanted so badly to work at Shopify in Ottawa before working with us (they didn’t get the gig).

I see a lot of folks in the industry today a decade later sitting in a comfortable role at the same company. And new folks, even bipoc folks laser-beam their career to focus on these big techs, including Facebook & Instagram too.

I even support entrepreneurs who build Shopify stores. And I make purchases that end up going through Shopify too. It’s a tough call. How radical do we want to get?

I’d rather MOVE past it instead.

I feel the real energy is not getting past it. But MOVING PAST IT.

Getting past something feels like we’re moving forward together. I’d not like that. Like the folks at Basecamp, I’d like to sharpen my focus, except with the opposite effect and move forward in another direction.