Hey.com’s founder reinvents email & battles Apple

This interview covers how Jason Fried’s company created Hey.com without user feedback, and why he says he’ll never give Apple a cut of its sales….even if Apple follows through on a threat to boot its iPhone app.

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Jason Fried

Jason Fried

Hey.com

Jason Fried is the founder of Basecamp project management software and author of multiple business books, including Remote. His latest creation is Hey, an email account that reduces clutter and increases privacy.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew Warner 0:04
Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner, I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses for an audience of entrepreneurs. And joining me is someone who just decided that he’s going to take on Gmail and outlook and all these other companies with an email product that that does everything differently. I’ve gotten to use it. I’m so proud of one of the first users of this new email platform. It’s called Hey, h. e y.com. And the founder, of course, is Jason freed. Most of you know him as the creator of Basecamp. I always revered him as the guy who created getting real, which is this book that so many of us are somebody who software software makers that we admire today have read and helped them minimize their their their feature list and create software that people love in this new software as a service world. I invited him here to think about how how he came up with this new approach and what kind of user testing He did. And I imagine that it’s none. But how could he not? Alright, we’re going to talk about that, thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first will host your website, right? It’s called hostgator. And the second will help you hire phenomenal developers called top cow. Jason, good to have you here.

Jason Fried 1:15
Good to be here. Andrew, good to talk to you again.

Andrew Warner 1:16
Jason, the idea that I’ve heard over and over here on mixergy is create a minimum viable product, show it to users make sure it actually makes sense, and then build on that you’ve got this whole software here. Did you do any of that this whole software with a big feature list?

Jason Fried 1:36
No, we don’t work that way. I know a lot of people work that way. We’ve never worked that way. We build what we want to exist to fill a gap that we think exists for our own usage. And we put it out there. I don’t think there’s any way to test a product until you build it and you put it out in the market. I don’t think asking people about an MVP or looking at sketches or to me, that’s not validating any thing it’s validating just for you. In my opinion, in general, I think that if you ask someone to give you feedback on an abstract, unfinished concept, what you get is abstract and incomplete feedback. So it was just a kernel of an idea. Like one of the ideas that you’ve got here is we should not be tracked. What if that was the most important feature that you have? Which is I can you explain the tracking an email? I thought everyone understood it, but it seems like surprising. Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s kind of scary, actually. So there’s a number of services probably between 40 and 50 that we know of right now that insert what’s called spy, we call them spy pixels. Inside emails, there’s not only spy pixels, but you can even hide tracking and fonts and a bunch of other places. And what happens is, is that when you get an email from someone who sends an email through through a service like this, it could be a marketing email, it could be a personal email. They get a whole bunch of information about you that you didn’t give them. You didn’t say they could have you You didn’t give them permission and there’s no indication that they’re getting this But they can get your IP address. If you open the email how many times you opened it, how long you spent reading it, what brand of phone you have, or what brand of computer you have, if you look at the email on the phone, and then the computer or the computer and on the phone, like all this stuff is sent to them without your knowledge or consent at all. So it hey, we block all of that 98% of it, I shouldn’t say all there’s probably some things who are unable to block but 98%. And so you can read your email without ever worrying about that you’re giving up your privacy or your personal information or any behavioral information to an advertiser to a marketer to an individual without your consent.

Andrew Warner 3:34
Okay, so let’s suppose that that was a pillar of the business. Couldn’t you have created an email redirect that clears out all these pixels and then forwards only the messages minus the pixel and other tracking to see if people wanted it and as a way of testing it? Isn’t that what the Lean Startup approach of minimum viable product approach is not what what they say?

Jason Fried 3:58
To me that’s not a viable approach. product, that’s the problem. That’s a feature. And there are there are features, there are plugins, I believe that do some of this stuff. So like that exists. But that’s not a viable product. To me a viable product is a collection of things that that as a cohesive has an idea. It’s it’s, it’s stitched together with a bigger idea than just any feature to add together all these things, turn something into a product. All right, viable product, you know, so I think that’s why you have to build to me, you have to build this and you have to put it out there and you have to put a price on it. And you have to complete it. You have to finish it before you ask people what they think because what they think is what they’re going to tell you about the unfinished thing. And if unfinished feedback to me is not really valuable just isn’t.

Andrew Warner 4:42
I know this is a different approach. I totally get it. But that’s our approach has always been for 20 years. And that’s how we do it. I want to understand your approach, I think you said to in response to a tweet that came in to both of us. We spent two years on this. Talk to me about where this idea came from. Where did you decide Were emails the one we’re going to pick and let’s go through the whole iteration to do that. Let’s do that because it

Jason Fried 5:05
didn’t start out with email.

This product actually started out. So we have a product called highrise, which is a CRM tool. And we spun highrise off for about three years and other team ran it for a while. And we took it back a few years ago. And we were setting out to redesign high rise like to do high rise to basically like we did with Basecamp, originally than Basecamp, two, and now we Basecamp three, but we’re gonna do high rise, too. And so we just started setting out and exploring this space of CRM, and what can we do to make this better and we had a better idea about it. And anyway, as we started exploring this and sort of kind of mocking this up and playing with it, we realized that what we were doing was building on me. Let me step back. All of our communication that we were going to attract through this thing was pretty much email base, which is how we pretty much talk to all vendors. Anyone would be tracking with CRM is primarily email based There’s some phone calls but mostly email. As we start building this, we’re like, you know what, I want this kind of email interaction with everyone I email not just lawyers or the press or accountants or like CRM II style, people, we

Andrew Warner 6:15
look kind of interactions that we’re talking about that you wanted. I wanted to look at my emails differently. I wanted to triage my emails differently. And you were redoing this with people who are ating, your address book and your CRM? No, no.

Jason Fried 6:28
So so in the early days of playing with this product, and coming up with the ideas for what was originally going to be high rise to, and we started mocking it up and start playing with the concepts. I want to see my email this way. I want to think of my email this way. I’m going to work through emails like this. And when I’m saying like this, you’re likely to see like what I mean this is early days, this was almost two years ago. It was just like, the way we had a timeline. The way we we laid emails out the way we dealt with contacts the way we were thinking about triage and things the way we were thinking about adding notes to email No threats, like, we’re like, Why can? Why can’t I annotate an email thread? Like why can’t I add my own notes to an email thread, like we were building this in a high rise to wasn’t really called that yet. It’s just still a conceptual idea. But I want to do that with all my emails. Like, if I’m talking to, you know, general contractor about a project I’m working on, and I want to have some notes about something in front of me when I before I email him or after email her or whatever, like, why can’t I just do things like that?

Andrew Warner 7:25
So I

Jason Fried 7:27
can I have my contacts in this way? Like, why can’t I? And we’re like, well, we can, we should just build that. So that’s where this began to start to evolve. But let me just go ahead and clear like this concept. This Hey, which is the product that’s out today came up a few days ago. It’s been all over the board all over the place like we don’t have when we build products, we don’t have a very clear vision of what it’s going to look like. In the end. We have some ideas that we start with, and then we go from there. And there’s lots of debates and disagreements and false starts and dead ends. Things that we think are going to be great that aren’t another things that we didn’t really think much about are going to be great, that turn out to be great. And you just kind of move around until you get to the point where you go, I think this is enough. Now I know, how do you know you don’t know? It’s a feeling. Just like how do you know if you’re in love with someone like you don’t, there’s no way to measure it. You just know it. And that’s kind of how product development is for us. We get a good feel for it at the end that it’s

Andrew Warner 8:21
ready. I think one of your books, the one that I got when I signed up for Basecamp you said that the features come from a conversation that Jason David and Ryan David, Tamar Hanson and Ryan singer, my right, you’ll have conversations and then you’ll think here are the features that we need to go with. Let’s take this out. Was it the same three people who are talking on phone calls on zoom on how we’re we’re deciding this actually makes sense?

Jason Fried 8:48
Yeah, this is mostly David Nye in the early days. And then Jonas who’s who’s our head of our design team.

Ryan is more involved with base camp because we can’t take our entire focus off base camp base camp, sir real business, I mean, hey, hey is an idea and it’s the, it’s off the charts, interest is off the charts. But like, it’s day three, we don’t know if this is going to work still. Right. So Basecamp. So Ryan’s been primarily focused on Basecamp. And we’re working on Basecamp four, which is going to be out next year. So he’s been kind of focused on that. But for the most part, this has been me and David, and then and then Jonas, but it started out with David Nye, conceptually and then Jonas and I mocked up the prototypes early on and play with a lot of things. And probably in the next week or so, we’re going to share a screenshot from every month of the development of the product and you’ll see just how radically weird it used to be the first version that this thing was totally it’s completely different unrecognizable. From what we released. I wasn’t able to see that over the time. Second, what wasn’t the first version? Well, the first version where I mean version, I mean, like, interface design mock ups, it was more timeline based, so it was more like a dates. Like an actual like a, like a literal timeline. So if you use Basecamp, if you go to the activity view in Basecamp, you’ve got the latest activity, you’ve got like dates, and then you’ve got things sprouting off left and right, kind of like a Facebook timeline. Technically, it used to look more like that. It was a blue background, there was wild, weird shapes everywhere. There was annotations all over the place. There’s a whole bunch of stuff. And some of those things we’re going to bring back over time. There’s some really good ideas that we didn’t bring into the product for 1.0. But it was just, you look at that, and you go, Oh, that looks totally different. Not at all what I expected. And that’s where we start, we always start with the weirdest ideas first, because we’re just designs and because as you it’s not that much different than life, for a lot of people, people tend to get more conservative as they go in life. And the same thing is true. I think with product development, like you. wacky ideas are not going to get into the product in the last three months of development. It’s just it’s just not gonna happen. You have to do that stuff early. And so our early stuff was all over the place and all over the board. What was the original concept that required a timeline? design? Oh, we were just going to treat email. So because this was more CRM II, initially, you’re going to treat email as a series of conversations over time. Like the first time I reached out to a prospect was this time. And then there was four days in between him showing Sandy’s faces.

Unknown Speaker 11:22
Yeah, showed like,

Jason Fried 11:24
here’s your email, and three empty days went by, here’s the next email, you know, like some of that kind of thought. And then like, this day was really busy with back and forth. And there was a pause for nine days, like, we’re trying to show time as part of the conversation, which is probably something you want to do in CRM, more so than you might want to do in traditional email. But it was, it was a neat idea. And we might bring some of that back at some point. But, I mean, there’s a pretty good chance. And we haven’t decided on all this stuff yet, but there’s pretty good chance a lot of CRM style features are going to make it into Hey, again, but we kind of flipped it to be more about email right? Now, and then we’ll bring in some additional stuff down the road as we as we develop the product further.

Andrew Warner 12:05
At one point did you go from Jonas designing interfaces to somebody? Is it David coding up a first version?

Jason Fried 12:14
Yeah, David would do that. So, Jonas, I worked on the UI.

And then when we have something, this is kind of where we work. So we always start with the design first. So it’s me, and usually another designer working on the core concepts visually. And then at some point, we present this to David, and be like, what do you think? And, and he likes or doesn’t like, give us feedback, whatever. And at that point, it’s about like, if he likes it, and we are whatever we go, Okay, let’s start to make this. So then he’ll jump in and start to hook some of these things up. So we can begin to like, walk through this in a way where it’s not just walking through static screenshots, but we can begin to interact with this and play with a little bit. So yeah, that’s when David gets gets in. We probably played on the prototyping stage. For a good six months back and forth, and this is non scheduled time, it’s just like, this is not the only thing we’re doing. She’s like we’re doing this on the side and between other projects has, we’re still been building Basecamp and all that stuff. So it’s just stuff, it’s we’re playing, we don’t know where this is gonna lead, it’s play, it really is play, it’s not work it’s play. And then the work begins when we finally commit to going, there’s something here. Now what I’ll tell you is that the initial version of this product was initially intended purely for multi use multi user use. So for like, a company, so providing doing all their all their email, and in fact, it is that too, by the way, at Basecamp, all of our company emails run through Hey, so hey, is actually a multi user product, but it’s not released that way. Right now. It’s a single user product right now. But in the next few months, we’re going to release the multi user version of it

Andrew Warner 13:53
and if I email you on your personal Basecamp email address, it’s going through Hey also

Jason Fried 13:58
Jason at Basecamp will go to Hey,

Andrew Warner 14:00
why so being that out person publicly I was. Anyway.

Jason Fried 14:05
The thing is, is that like, and also with, hey, I can screen people out, so I don’t really care.

Unknown Speaker 14:10
But here’s the thing.

Jason Fried 14:12
Right now, what people signing up for, hey, today, you get an ad, Hey, calm email address. People always get that. But down the road, you’ll also have the option to have a custom domain. So if you mixergy.com you can host an email inside Hey, not yet we are because we’re building the tool and we’re prototyping internally. But it will do that it does that already. We just don’t have other companies on it yet. Well, that’s where it began. Why? Why? Because it was built for our company was built for our company. And here’s the thing that’s interesting is David and I battled over this for quite a while, which is like, Is there enough here to make a individual email tool in the sense like, this is early on? Totally, absolutely believe there is now but there was a lot of debates early on. Did we have the ideas like it was very clear that there was value in here for multi user business style email product. Of course, people use pay individually right now for business as an individual freelancers individual person, but like as a multi user thing. That’s where we started this because that’s also where the business model really is, frankly, like, that’s where that’s where this becomes really sustainable. It’s very hard, we charge 99 bucks a year right now for Hey, as a individual user, you can do the math, it’s very hard to make that into a real large business. It’s just you need a lot of people to sign up at 100 bucks a year. But on the business side, we have experienced doing this we don’t really make consumer products, we’ve always made business products and hey, still, hey, is a business product, it’s just tailored a little bit more initially towards individual use. The real business model is based on the business side and the the individual use is is is you know, of course, like I wanted it basically David and I both one individually as well. So like, that’s how it that’s how it happens. But it’s always going to be the same product. So just gonna be some level ups for people who want to use it with multiple. So

Andrew Warner 16:08
you’re saying we were thinking of a business product, because number one, that’s how we think that’s what we want to build stuff that we need. And number two, that’s where the revenue is. And that’s the way your thought has always been, what do we believe? What do we need? We are users that there are other that represent other users. We’ve always said that to me. That’s correct answer. Yeah,

Jason Fried 16:27
exactly. And yet, we build what we want for as our company, like, we build company tools, we build Basecamp we built high rise evil campfire with built backpack, which initially is, by the way, started as an individual use product and then became a business product. We’ve always had a lot more success on that side of things. Sorry for that. chime, that’s my front door.

Unknown Speaker 16:49
So you know, the

Unknown Speaker 16:54
that’s where we begin.

Jason Fried 16:55
But as we kept building this, like, I want this for my own personal email address as well. Like, I have a Gmail address that I primarily use for all my non business stuff, although there’s plenty of business stuff that comes to my Gmail address. That’s just the nature of email. Email is not personal slash business. It’s like he’s trying to but I can’t separate it no different than a phone or a computer like I run my entire business Basecamp is run. I’m not the only one who works here. Like when I run the business, I use a MacBook Air, which is technically Apple’s consumer product, consumer laptop, right? It’s not a MacBook Pro is like, yeah, these different these distinguish, they don’t make any sense anymore. So emails the same way. So but point was I wanted this tool just for that other kind of email that I also do. And so but there was a lot of debates internally about like, could we build could we build could make this compelling enough for individuals who are used to paying nothing for email? Would they be willing to pay about eight bucks a month, which is what 100 bucks a year is?

Unknown Speaker 17:55
And we debated and debated and debated and

Jason Fried 17:59
and Well, I’m certainly positive we did we needed to do to do that. But it was interesting. It didn’t start that way.

Andrew Warner 18:07
It was it was there at any point where you contacted friends where you contact where you went to Starbucks and said, Would you pay $100? For email that looks like this number try never Will you try this out even as a prototype and tell me if this makes sense.

Jason Fried 18:22
Never, never is my opinion, you cannot ask someone what they would pay for something or if they’d be willing to pay for something? Because there is absolutely no cost to saying yes.

Andrew Warner 18:34
And what if you just charge them say, Great, give me $100. And I’ll produce this for you give me $50 now and I’ll produce it for you in a year or give me $100. Now, I’ll give you lifetime access. You’re smiling. But this gives you so many entrepreneurs, who will come up with something that they think makes sense, and then they realize they’re kind of weird, because we’re all uniquely weird, and it’s not until someone else talks to us and points out our little weirdnesses that we realized, Oh, that’s my own personal Work, for sure. But there’s no way to know. I mean, so you take an entrepreneur who asks 50 people, or these 50 people, or these 250 people represent the population at large. What I don’t do is if you identify people who are all similar, or have the same problem that you’re trying to address, I think it was a mature the creator of twitch who says, You don’t even need to talk to 50 after talking to five or so you’ll start to see a pattern and it’ll be really clear. Oh, I agree. don’t work that way.

Jason Fried 19:31
No, no, I agree that you don’t need to talk to that many people. But like,

people can’t give you an answer to that question, because they don’t have to pay for anything right now. And even if they give you money for something that’s promised down the road, they they’re not deciding. They’re basically just Betting on you. They’re not betting on the thing. Yeah. Because they don’t know what the thing is. I just don’t believe that you can get an answer or real answer. The only answer you can get is to make the thing put it on the market. Let the market speak for itself. That’s it, in my opinion. I don’t know Again, it’s this in fact, but like, if you just break it down, like if it doesn’t cost anyone to buy something, or I’m sorry, doesn’t cause someone to say yes or no, then why not just make it 500 bucks or 1000 bucks or like, you know,

Andrew Warner 20:16
you can charge them up front the thing that I wonder if you

Jason Fried 20:18
can’t charge upfront for something you’re not delivering. I mean, you can write that’s the whole Kickstarter model. Right? Right. What you have there is a video and you have the promise and you have like, we’re not faking it. I don’t want to fake anything. There’s no reason to fake what we’re going to give you. And also, frankly, I don’t know what we’re going to give you. So if I was to talk to you eight months prior, like would you pay 100 bucks an email thing? Well, what is it well, I don’t know we’re not done with it yet. I can’t I can’t tell you so in that case, they’re betting on you go Yeah, I think that so and so could do something great. Yeah, but to me, this is just it’s it’s a it’s a useless answer. It’s not doesn’t represent reality is that you can ask anyone you want. You cannot ask anyone you want. The market is the ultimate ultimately, the truth. But you don’t know, what are we sending people out into the world with this advice, who are then going to go six months down the road on a product and then see that people don’t buy it and are going to be in pain? Because because they’ve committed six months of their lives, they’ve committed six months of their of their money into this, that maybe this is not for everyone. Maybe this is for further advanced companies or for people who have side or, or main jobs that can sustain them even if this idea fails. I Well, I mean, you could look at it that way. You could also say like, aren’t we hurting people buy us time to ask people too early if they’d be willing to pay for something and a few people’s tell them no, and it could have been the best idea ever and a million people would have paid for it. You just ask the wrong four people like you don’t know. The only thing you know is make it put it out there and see and by the way, most things don’t work. Anyway, no matter how much you plan, massive companies not work for you, Jason.

Andrew Warner 21:55
I got what give me one thing. Everything seems to work. Great for you. Please.

Jason Fried 22:00
Well, before we’ll get to that in a second, but before I do, there are companies with billions worth billions of dollars that do enormous amounts of market research, that more more market research and anyone who listens to the show could ever imagine doing. It would be 15 lifetime’s worth of money, and they get it wrong, like, companies get it wrong because the market is unknown. The market is the only thing that makes decisions and until you actually put something in the market, you simply do not know. You just don’t know. Now, what have we done? I mean, we’ve had varying degrees of successful products and then also varying degrees of unsuccessful unsuccessful products depending on how you you you measure things up. So for example, like our biggest hit is Basecamp Basecamp was 10 has been 10 times larger than any other thing we’ve ever done. So you could say that backpack was a failure. I mean, I don’t look at things that way, but commercially, backpack could not sustain our business was back NORC back Pack

Andrew Warner 23:00
was a file storage and sharing

Jason Fried 23:02
backpack was like basically a very personal version of Basecamp. Like, it’s more like Evernote. People might think of it as more like Evernote like storing tasks and notes and files on individual pages. So it’s a very, very simple beautiful product actually, but just didn’t do a commercially so we’d be out of business. If all we had was backpack we’d also be out of business. If all we had was campfire, we’d also be out of business camp, there was a chap, campers shout out. High Rise, we wouldn’t be out of business high rise was a multi million dollar product, but it was still 10 x less successful than Basecamp.

Andrew Warner 23:37
So

Jason Fried 23:38
we’d be out of business if all we had was backpack. So like if you measure it that way those things are quote failures commercially. But I don’t ever look at things like that as failures. Those aren’t failures. Those are just projects that we did and some work better than others but they’re not failures in my in my mind.

Andrew Warner 23:55
He’s okay with me talking to Nathan about what happened in high rise and having him be open about why yeah Of course, it was taken back. Okay. Um, and I should say to everyone Basecamp is a project management software that allows you to communicate with the people you work with keep tasks together with the people you work with, share documents, and so on. And I’m going to take a moment Jason telco about my second, my first sponsor, it’s top towel, Jason in the past, I’ve talked about top towel as a place to go hire developers. And my guests will say, yes, it is great. Yes, I heard I have heard how they have the best developers there and their screening process and so on. And so will you hire them? Or you’re gonna take the URL down? And they say no, I say why they say because I don’t want my developers to be remote. I always assumed that everybody accepted remote even when you wrote your book, remote. I thought, this is this is kind of a played out idea. Everyone knows that remote makes sense. I had no idea until COVID that many people are that reluctant to being remote. Well, today, we finally accepted that having a remote work first makes sense. If you’re looking to hire developers, and you’re good with having remote developers, you should talk to the people the top towel, see if they’ve got somebody who’s the right fit for you. Even if they don’t, they’ll tell you and you could walk away and if they do it Use my URL, you’ll get 80 hours of developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours in addition to a no risk trial period of up to two weeks, that’s top as in top of your head thousand talent to ptl comm slash MIXE rG why to get that unique offer, top towel.com slash mixergy. So, at what point did you start sharing it with other people on the team? Hey, on the Basecamp team, yes, hey, um,

Jason Fried 25:31
Ryan was next. Ryan was involved as well, but like, not as closely involved. But Ryan, I always like to bounce ideas off of Ryan. So that was he was probably the next person. What’s his work?

Andrew Warner 25:42
What’s his official job? Brian singer.

Jason Fried 25:45
Ryan’s head of strategy. We’d say we’d say Yeah.

Product Strategy, not so much like company strategy. That’s my role, but like products, like where do we go next with things that sort of thing. Probably Ryan was next few. I mean, I don’t remember it was probably early on, did you feed back and say, Jason? I think it should be no, no, it was way too early for that. So it wasn’t working. It was just, you know, we built we what we do basically, is we build four or five or six different screens that like show a process or a flow or a feel. And they’re just linked together. They don’t really work. But they’re in HTML. So you can click around, and it’s real in that respect. But so there’s nothing to us yet. Just like, Hey, here’s the thing we’re making. What do you think? And by the way, we’d actually, you know, now that I’m talking about this, I’m remembering some stuff. years prior, like years ago, I don’t know when it was five years ago, four years ago, we explored some of these ideas. Also. We internally had a code name for this project called Glengarry, which was going to be a sales tool, like another CRM II kind of thing. So we’ve been sort of exploring some of these ideas for a while and Ryan had been involved in some of that stuff. So he was up to date on it, but there’s nothing to us at this point. I think Don’t remember, really the like the moment we shifted over. But basically what happens is, is that the way we work is me and David or me, David Jonas or me, David and Ryan’s small core of people will be working on something, we’ll get to the point, we feel comfortable enough to having David start to work on it as well. And then once we get once we’re there, we might bite off one or more additional developers or designers to help kind of keep it going and seeing where we go next. Maybe giving it a cycle of work, we do the six week cycles. And then at some point, we’re like, we’re gonna make this thing. Like, we don’t know exactly what it’s going to be yet. But we know that there’s enough here that we’re going to start, okay, and we’re going to find our way. It’s no different than going to sit like deciding that. Today, I’m going to go take a walk through the forest. I know I’m going to go take a walk through the forest. I don’t know which path I’m going to take. I don’t know where I’m going to go. But I’m going to go do that. There’s no question in mind, you’re gonna go do that. So that’s kind of how we live on it. Something something is going to get launched here, we’re gonna, well we’re gonna make, we’re going to begin to make something like we’re going to put resources behind making something whether or not it fizzles out, it’s possible that it could fizzle out. But we’re ready to commit some resources. So we’ll take like a team of teams, usually three people, and maybe like add another team, another team that at some point, we’re all in on this thing. So when we build something brand new, like, Hey, where the whole company is all in, we pause all of our other work. And we go all in on this once it’s out. So now it’s out. Pretty soon we’re going to split again have some people work on Basecamp have some people work on Hey, so we’re going to come slip to do something like this, especially email which is obscenely difficult. It was. This is the most difficult, ambitious thing we’ve ever done. It’s technically incredibly hard, you know, email looks like it’s like a solved problem. It’s so hard to do. Like what what do you what am I not seeing? That’s difficult? Oh my god. deliverability is so first of all, just to be clear for people who are listening, hey, is not an email client. This is Not something that sits on top of Gmail.

Andrew Warner 29:02
I know straight to me, I thought it would be an email client. No, man, you can’t

Jason Fried 29:05
do anything with email clients. This is the problem with email clients. So that’s a problem. But like, if you want to invent something new, if you want to do something that hasn’t been done before, you cannot do that on someone else’s platform.

Andrew Warner 29:18
Why not? I heard you say that to Kara Swisher on her podcast, and I was so eager for her to not say yes, but instead say, like, what, what Couldn’t you have done? Okay, you’ve used a right

Jason Fried 29:27
yep. Take the screener, which is a fundamental concept of the product, which is like you have to say yes or no, it’s consent based email, yes or no. So let’s say we’re built a tool on top of Gmail, emails come into Hey, because he’s a client of Gmail. It’s not but let’s say it was yes. And I said yes or no. And I said no to somebody. Okay. Yep. What is the equivalent in in Gmail? Where does that email go? Does it go to the trash,

Andrew Warner 29:52
but I’ve seen other people do it. I’ll go all the way back to what was it? I forget the name. The one that Dropbox acquired is they label it They will automatically label nice and match or they know what to of course

Jason Fried 30:03
filter. The problem is that that’s, that’s a hack. It’s a workaround, which is every which is why, which is the problem with email. Fundamentally, it is a series of workarounds and hacks from its simplest thing, the thing people do all day long, which is, I need to get back to someone I don’t have time right now, what do I do? Well, in every other product that’s ever existed, what you do is you mark the email unread, again, or you star it or you like, you do workarounds, in Hey, you actually have a workflow. It’s called reply later, and it puts into a little stack for you. And you can click the stack and knock them all down at once. Like, there’s a workflow. There’s an idea there, it’s not a workaround. So the problem with building clients is that all you’re doing is working around things. You’re not creating workflows and you’re faking stuff and now Gmail is labeling stuff behind the scenes and in Gmail changes the rules and all of a sudden everything you built breaks like you can’t really fundamentally changing. The reason why like the last time people were excited about email was 16 years ago, when Gmail launched, because Gmail felt fundamentally different Gmail introduced ideas called like, archive, like, you could didn’t archive emails before you deleted them, or you left them where they were right now. And hey, we’ve gone but we don’t believe in archiving, either. But the point is, is that Gmail introduced some new ideas in Gmail is a wonderful product back then. So good product, obviously, but it just hasn’t really, in my opinion evolved in the way it should have over 16 years. But that’s I

Andrew Warner 31:28
don’t know, they just added meat. You can now have Google saw that. No, but Jason, here’s the thing. But here’s it

Unknown Speaker 31:33
Well, again, like you can’t you just can’t

Jason Fried 31:39
think about this in architectural terms. If you’re going to build a house, on a piece of land, and there’s already a foundation there, and you have to build on the foundation, because that’s what the permit says, Yeah, there’s already a permit approved for like a 4000 square foot home on this foundation like you can only do so much. The shape is already defined, the size is already defined. You can’t make it a nine bedroom house if you wanted to even a one bedroom house and 4000 square feet would be weird. Like, there’s all these limitations because of things that already exists. Meanwhile, if you decide to build a house from scratch your own way, not an existing platform, not an existing Foundation, you can do different things. You can have ways

Andrew Warner 32:17
to do that. And, yeah, I don’t want to argue it. I want to just acknowledge, this is the riskiest thing I think that you did with Hey, I can’t just say, put all my email from over the years into Hey, calm, and if I’m not happy with it, I moved to another product and everything is just the way it was. It’s there’s no easy in and out, it’s you’re buying into this. We’re here, we’re gonna make you a better experience, because we’re cutting off a lot of what you’re used to. But in order to do that, we’re also going to make it a little bit difficult for you to go back to normal. And that’s a gutsy thing. You’re looking at your eyes. You’re not comfortable with me acknowledging that.

Jason Fried 32:54
Oh, no, I’m perfectly comfortable. I love that you’re bringing it up.

Andrew Warner 32:57
But how do you how do you take that risk without feeling it Any feel up fear, any fear? How do you take that risk? That’s the hard part. You’re really taking a risk that I haven’t seen another email creator to take?

Jason Fried 33:08
Yeah, well, okay, let’s unpack all that stuff. That’s a really great point, a bunch of great points. First off, it’s not that risky. So number one, before you’re emailing, go to Gmail, wherever you do, and you say forward into Hey, okay. We’re not asking you to import 10 years of things. We’re not asking you to move 15 gigabytes of stuff just for your email moving forward, 14 day free trial, give it a try. If we can convince you within 14 days that it’s worth paying for. We didn’t do our job, or I know you’re going to

Andrew Warner 33:37
you’re going to answer my question, but let me pause and just describe what happens to people. Okay, email goes into the into, hey, talk about where, what, where you do the triage. And then once it’s in the main feed and the main box, inbox, important box, what happens there because I think until people understand that, it’s the rest of the conversation doesn’t make sense.

Jason Fried 33:57
Sure, but I just wanted to be clear, though, that like It’s incredibly low risk to try, hey, you set up forwarding in Gmail, if you want to get your stuff in there and you’re done. Like, we’re not asking you to move anything. We’re not asking you to take anything with you. And I asked you to export them from Gmail when I asked, he said,

Andrew Warner 34:13
I’ll tell you why I disagree. Because once I hit reply on a message from Hey, yes, you’re gonna get my email coming from, hey, if I say, I don’t like this anymore, if you go back and you hit reply on a message that I sent you, it’s going into Hey, even after I’ve cancelled Hey, there’s no way for me to bring it back into Gmail, for example.

Jason Fried 34:32
Sure, during the trial, that’s true. After you pay, we’ll give you your email address for life and forge your email address forever. Well, if I’m not

Andrew Warner 34:40
happy, anyone who emails me A month later or a year later, I’ll still get their message.

Jason Fried 34:44
Yes. Yeah. Okay, I did, we’re not assholes. But during a 14 day free trial, I like we’re not gonna like you can’t have your email address for life just because you sign up for something 14 days, but if you pay for a year of hay, that email address is reserved for you for life. And you can set up forwarding on the way out. So if you cancel, we actually have a screen that says, Now that you’re canceled, where do you want your emails to go from now on? So we’re, we’re being very fair about this. But yeah, look, there’s a little bit of a struggle whenever you try something new, obviously. But I think that’s one of the reasons we’re keeping the tour or the the trial, the 14 days and not 90 days, because 90 days, you get in deeper, and then it’s harder to get out if you don’t want it. So 14th couple weeks, like, Look, if six people get a different email address, like you just it’s not a big it’s really not a big deal at the end of the day. Yeah, but yeah, I’m acknowledging that there’s certainly a bit of a step up and a hurdle, of course, but that’s, that’s what if you don’t struggle with what you have, if you’re happy with what you have, then don’t switch. So if you love Gmail, if you think it’s the best thing in the world, if you love email, if you love having your inbox all you have it, if everything is great for you and you’re not struggling with email, then you should not even try Hey, if you feel like you know, there’s got to be a better way I do this every single day of my life. And I’m a little bit frustrated with it. And I watched the hay demo and I’m like, I’d like to have those things. And try it. It’s not that big of a deal. But getting back to your other points.

So the inbox is I think this is your point maybe my mind’s a little bit scattered. Oh, you

Andrew Warner 36:13
homeschooling just before this. In addition to working

Jason Fried 36:17
well, yeah, our kids are home.

Andrew Warner 36:18
Yeah. How many kids you have

Jason Fried 36:20
with two kids? Five and a half and one and a half. So it’s,

Andrew Warner 36:22
it’s been tricky. homeschooling every day I heard you say your kids are your oldest is in a Montessori School. You can’t do you can’t just stick them in front of zoom. You’re.

Jason Fried 36:33
Yeah, I mean, no one and a half year old is not there’s no school, right? She’s just one and a half, five and a half year old. This schooling thing, frankly, like the remote school doesn’t really work very well for him. So we just do things during the day and

Andrew Warner 36:47
hang out personally or doing things in a ditch some work some some

Jason Fried 36:50
Yeah, my wife and my wife takes is doing most of it. I’m helping out. And then we just brought some help back. So we have someone who helps us during the day now. So that’s been helpful. But yeah, for about 10 weeks it was childcare, school work for everybody. And by the way, half of our employees have kids at base camp. So it’s very much a shared difficult struggle for a lot of people.

Unknown Speaker 37:14
Anyway, so

Andrew Warner 37:16
what happens when an email comes in your process?

Jason Fried 37:19
I’m only frazzled because like, the last few days since we launched have been completely insane in all the good ways, but Okay, so when email comes into, hey, the so the fundamental one of the fundamental problems with email in general, is that emails not consent based, which is one of the great things about email to which is anyone who has your email just can get ahold of you, which is always been kind of nice, but it’s not really so nice anymore. Because your email address is everywhere. It’s been bought, sold, traded, posted online, it’s everywhere.

Unknown Speaker 37:49
And

Jason Fried 37:51
everyone who emails you now takes a little slice of your attention because they land in your inbox traditionally and you got to deal with it. Like even if dealing with it is ignoring it or hitting delete, like you just got to deal with it. with hay the first time anybody emails you, they don’t land in what’s called your inbox, which you can think of as an inbox when I say it’s, I am not i n. But think of it as a traditional inbox. They don’t land there, they first land on what’s called the screener. Just like you screen your calls, you can now screen your emails. So if you if someone calls you on your phone, you don’t recognize the number you’re not probably answering. If you wait for it to go to voicemail, you listen to voicemail. I don’t that’s a salesperson or I don’t, whatever. Now I can call you back or maybe you do, but it’s up to you. The point is, is that it’s up to you. So if Hey, the first time someone emails you they open in the screener and you could just say yes or no yes means they’re in no means you’ll never hear from them again. And you get to so you get to control who can get in touch with you. Once they get in touch with you once if you say yes, they come into your inbox into a section called new for you. So we group all of the new unread emails at the top of the screen so you don’t have to go diving and digging for that new unread message you haven’t seen it’s 30 emails down your inbox because of a bunch of other stuff gotten away like so all grouped at the top and then down below, we have an area called previously seen, which collects all the emails you ever seen sent or looked at in one place in one screen. So we don’t have this notion of archives or sent mails all in one place. So you just scroll down and you see everything you need to see or you scroll up. And it’s all your way.

Andrew Warner 39:14
Fundamentally, that’s, and when I go to my messages, yeah, I open up one of the new messages. And there’s there’s three things I think I could do with it. Well, there there gets there other clever things that I could do, but one is obviously reply. The other is save for later to reply or reply later, as you call it. And then the last is pin, meaning just hold it here. I’m not yet sure what to do with it. If I don’t do any of it, it goes into previously seen, which is the equivalent of archive, it’s just like move on, get rid of this. That’s the workflow.

Jason Fried 39:42
Exactly. And there’s a subtlety here, though, is important, which is that because we don’t have the notion of archiving, and this is one of the things that has met with the most resistance from people who moving from Gmail or from others, there’s my

Andrew Warner 39:55
one tech support question to you. Yeah,

Jason Fried 39:58
yeah, this is this has been the number one and we knew this was Gonna be the case. And even internally for a while it was controversial. But after you begin to use it for a while, it’s like this is so much better, which is, I don’t have to feel like I’m obligated to clean up after myself. I don’t have to think about archiving this, just like things flow away over time. And what’s great about it is that in the near term, they’re always close at hand, because you often refer back to things. So here’s one of the things that sucks about Gmail and about most tools. Apple mails the same way it looks the same way. Things can go and like if I if I get an email and I reply to somebody, it’s now in my sent mail. Or if I archived it’s now archived, or maybe I left in my inbox, so like, how do I see all the stuff I did recently? Like, I have to go to three or four different places, then you can say, well, you can go to this thing called all mail. Yeah, but that’s another place to go. Like, in Hey, the things you did recently are nearby, always. And then like, tomorrow, they’re further away. And the day after that they’re further away and eventually they’re just out of your way. There’s no notion of I need to clean this up and get to inbox zero and clean this up. No Just let it go, let it flow, the stuff that you want to, like take out of the stream, essentially, you put in the two stacks reply later set aside, otherwise just goes away. And it’s it’s like, it is an adjustment for people. But that’s what improvements are. They’re an adjustment for people. That’s what invention is, it’s an adjustment for people that go, Oh, I never thought about it that way before I even have to unlearn some things or change my mind or open my mind for a bit to give this a chance. And then when they do, like, what I think what’s going to happen is people who you’re going to use this are gonna have a really, really, really hard time going back not because we lock anyone in because we don’t do that. But because once you go back to jokes, I’ve had to go back to Gmail to get some old stuff occasionally. It’s like, what the hell have I been dealing with for 10 years? This is what I’ve been living in. Are you kidding me? So I think that’s what we’re gonna see a lot of people but it’s gonna take a while for people to get over some of the, the old habits they have, which I totally understand. It took a while for a lot of people internally and this is one of the biggest things internally that we had to battle which is like, I want to archive things I want to archive things and I just kept saying, that’s what you’re used to, like, it’s not necessarily what you want to do. It’s what you become used to. So you got to give this some time. And then people basically don’t look back.

Andrew Warner 42:10
Jason, what you’re offering is a totally different approach to creating product from what other people seem to be advocating. It’s, one is, I’m the artist I know. And even if I don’t know, I know what I want to give you. And if you don’t like it fine, but I’m going to create this for you and the other approaches. You’re the customer, I’m going to keep checking in and seeing Do you like this little thing? And if you do, I’ll build on if you don’t, then I’ll take that away. And it will just keep it’s two different approaches. It seems like what you’re saying is that your approach isn’t right for everyone, but it’s definitely your approach. And it’s different from that other Lean Startup approach,

Jason Fried 42:49
which is very different from lean startup, for sure. In my opinion in my world, when I look around at the best products in the world, I think they’re built this way. Like what well The products like, what am I? I’m using a MacBook Air right now. I remember when the MacBook Air came out. I mean, this is the latest generation, right? But when it first came out people like,

Unknown Speaker 43:13
what?

Jason Fried 43:14
Like, what is this thing? It’s underpowered it only has one port. It’s really thin and weird. The screen is small. I guarantee you, you could not ask the market. If they would want this thing and then make that thing. You have to make that thing because you see something in it that other people don’t see yet. But they will once they see it.

Andrew Warner 43:34
See how would take you Apple made this are you Apple Computer, which was just like a circuit board to see do people care enough and then continue and improve? That’s all they knew how to do.

Jason Fried 43:43
It wasn’t it wasn’t anything

Andrew Warner 43:45
that was possible and then they just checked in and adjusted. No,

Unknown Speaker 43:49
no.

Jason Fried 43:50
Apple made that for themselves and for hobbyists. That’s what he was. niak was like he was a hobbyist. He wanted to make this thing for himself. He wanted something to exist in the world. Okay, Max. Air is a great example that the iPhone is a great example of that like, or

Unknown Speaker 44:06
even like, I mean,

Unknown Speaker 44:08
you look at like, amazing things like, you look at like a

Jason Fried 44:15
Pagani, which is a car, which is like a million plus dollar car, whatever it is, like that’s made by someone who just wants that to exist in the world now, it’s totally out of reach for pretty much everybody. But I don’t care about that part of it for this discussion. That’s not about it. It’s the

Unknown Speaker 44:31
idea that is

Jason Fried 44:32
an exceptional machine and exceptional thing. Even if you can or can’t afford it doesn’t matter. Like, objectively it’s exceptional. And it’s only that way because they built what they wanted to exist in the world. It’s not because they did market research on it. It’s not because they asked people how much horsepower do you want? It’s not because they asked people should the car look crummy polygons look ridiculous. The ridiculous looking things is it just Pagani Ghani himself wanted that to exist, so it exists and that’s like When I look at the best things, that’s where they come from, I love mechanical watches, a watch collector. Some of my favorite watches are from independent watchmakers who make weird weird things at the market. There might only be 30 people in the world who’d want to buy this. But they make it because they’re artists and they want this thing to exist. And all they have a vision and they want it to exist. They don’t ask people what they want, they make what they want. And they put it out there and look, if there’s enough people in the world to make that sustainable, then then people enough people buy it, then it’s sustainable. If not, it’s not and that happens most the time. It’s not

Andrew Warner 45:37
one way or things like that. Does it the opposite. It’s super human, seem to be constantly checking in, what’s the next thing you’re going to do? Let’s iterate and give you that, alright, they have VC customers, VC customers, for some reason need to actually not for some reason, they’d like to label all their messages so that they can keep track of the companies they’re watching over the years. They add labeling in a certain way. It’s it’s two different approaches. I don’t know that I would. But it seems like the magic and the innovators vision comes through in your approach.

Jason Fried 46:06
Well, let me put it this way. We listen to all sorts of feedback. And we incorporate all sorts of feedback, but not for version one. version one is our version. God, that’s what we put out there. After that, we do extensive customer interviews we get, we’ve already had, like 3000 feature requests, I think for him, right. Like, like, we hear all sorts of things. And we know a lot of the things people are asking for that we wanted to do that we couldn’t get into v1. And there’s a bunch of other ideas that we hadn’t thought about, like, we’re very open to hearing these things, but version one is ours. And that I think, is true for any product even like this apple, MacBook Air like it started out as theirs and then they’ve modified it over the years based on what people want. People want more ports, you know, all these things like other things, like I feel like the

Andrew Warner 46:56
iPad is a really good example of that. I’m looking at something that’s more of what people have demanded here in front of me. But the rigorous version was everything that I didn’t want was everything that I wanted was missing. I think I have the set.

Jason Fried 47:07
So I’ve got the same thing that you have, right, I got the keyboard thing. It’s like, that could not have been version one because it’s it’s too muddled to concept. Now, actually, what was amazing about the iPad is that in the iPhone is that they’re very pure ideas, even though the iPad is a little bit, what is this, but they wanted that thing. They had an idea. They didn’t know where it was gonna go down the road, but they knew that that thing needed to exist in the world. That’s how we do things. Again, we listen to people after we launch Absolutely. Basecamp today is full of customer features, tons of them. But it didn’t start out that way. So there’s something we built for ourselves for our own business. And that’s how we start with v1.

Andrew Warner 47:47
All right, let me tell you about my second sponsor. And then I want to come back in and ask you a couple more questions, including about the apple issue that’s going on right now and about what’s coming up in Basecamp version for my second sponsor, Hostgator I’ve got to tell you, Jason, the only reason you and I are connecting is because a few years ago, I had this idea that I wanted to interview people. And so I took the most comfortable seat that we have in our living room at the house. I moved it into the home office, and I just sat there with a laptop, and I said, I’m gonna figure this out. And I created a site that was kind of clean. And actually, I wasn’t say ugly, but it wasn’t ugly was just very simple, where I could interview people, and I started asking people if I could interview them, and I posted the interviews online, and I thought at first this was just going to be an experiment that would die Monday morning would be a Friday experiment by Monday morning. And then it became this passion that I’ve now followed for over a decade of my life. People ask me, by the way, Jason, do I still love I freakin love it. The rest of my day. I don’t love as much the conversations I love. So for some reason with you, I’m a little intimidated. I’ve got to be honest with you.

Jason Fried 48:47
I think you’re one of the best. I’ve told you this many times. You’re one of the few interviews I’ve ever talked to so you shouldn’t be intimidated. You’re great at this. I should be intimidated,

Andrew Warner 48:54
I think because I think because there is an art to what you do and so I wanna let the art of my conversation come through in this, but it becomes too important to me. And that for some reason and anything that becomes too important as a problem, and anything that I have to bank on art becomes intimidating versus start with a process and then let the art comes through becomes a little bit easier if that makes sense. You know

Jason Fried 49:19
what? Yeah, I mean, we have a process also like this is not just us, you know, splashing paint on a canvas until it looks good. Like we have a process Absolutely. And anyone can read about it. We’ve made this completely open. It’s called shape up. If you go to base camp, comm slash shape up SAP up, you can read all about our process. It’s all out there in the open. We wrote a free book about it. We don’t even need your email address to get the free book. That’s our process. That is it to a tee right there.

Andrew Warner 49:47
I think I think I read it and I kind of refer to this and I do love how I don’t even have to give you my email address. I should close out the ad for hostgator. If you’re out there, you’ve got an idea even if it’s a type of idea that you think you’re going to kill on Monday morning Cohen, just explore pursue it and try it. And if you use Hostgator, I’ll get credit for it, which is really nice for me. Thank you, hostgator. And thank you to the people who’ve signed up through me. And you’ll also get the lowest price that Hostgator has available. So go create a website, go explore, and don’t be afraid to just crush it and kill it and start fresh is a great way to learn a great way to experiment and a great way for me to maybe for you to find that passion that’s going to be a 10 plus year adventure for you. I hope to do this till I die. Go to hostgator.com slash mixergy I literally mean that. Do you think you’ll be doing this till you die? Jason?

Jason Fried 50:32
I hope so. I mean, this is actually a good point. This What is this?

Andrew Warner 50:39
creating products, creating software, talking to customers doing your own support? I

Jason Fried 50:43
don’t know if it’ll be software. I mean, I don’t know. Like, maybe I the way I look at my career is like I started when I was 13 at a grocery store, a local grocery store, like bagging groceries.

Unknown Speaker 50:54
I think it’s the same I’ve had the same job ever since. That’s how I feel. I mean

Unknown Speaker 51:01
I

Jason Fried 51:03
in that job I made like so I get a paper bag back then you know what there’s still today but the art is gone by the way of bagging groceries. It used to be like this thing that you would kind of like play Tetris, I would just play Tetris, I opened the bag, all the groceries, come down, come down the, you know, the conveyor belt, and I would make something I would make, like, I’d make this stuff fit. I’ve, that’s the same job as I have today. I make now the ideas I make fit are different and the pitches I make fit and the marketing I do I have to make fit. Like, I’m just trying to fit things together in a way where they work. That’s it. It’s the same job. I mean, obviously, it’s not but you know what I mean? Like anyone should say, and so, I mean, at some point, I would love to sit in front of like a pottery wheel and just throw pots like I don’t know how to do that yet, but I’d love to do that and I would just make pots and make them work. I just like to make things work and I get frustrated. Don’t work and I get frustrated when I have to use things that don’t work. And that’s where the energy comes from, I suppose. But yeah, I mean, I want to be doing something forever for sure.

Andrew Warner 52:10
What do you think about Apple’s issue where they’re, they’re telling you that the only way that you can have your app in their app store, look at your lips, just, as I say,

Unknown Speaker 52:19
ready? What are you thinking?

Andrew Warner 52:21
Well, the problem is that they’re saying the fact that you charge means that you have to charge using Apple Pay and means that you have to give us a percentage of the sales.

Jason Fried 52:31
Yeah, I mean, I don’t agree with what their what their stance primarily because with it, what do you do? Well, as you probably know, we’re battling it very hard right now. Yes. on multiple fronts, and the press is battling it with us. And I’m hearing from David and I are both hearing from an enormous number of developers who feel like they’ve been strong arm for years, but are afraid to speak out. So we’re gonna stick our necks out we already have and we’re gonna we’re going to lead this charge even If they approve us, we’re still going to lead the charge because this is a charge needs to be led.

Andrew Warner 53:04
What does it mean to lead the charge?

Jason Fried 53:07
To push back on the

what we see is very unfair monopolistic power basically.

Well, you first of all, you make noise, and you suggest change. And you point out the inequities and and it might be a multi year process. It might involve a bunch of friends. I mean, David’s already testified in front of antitrust committee in Congress, like that happened seven months ago or something, whatever that was, and we might do it again. And we might do it again. It might be 10 years, who knows how long it will be? It could be three years, it could be five years, it could be six months. I mean, Apple could who knows, right? But you have to begin by making making some noise, making your points being clear, and creating a movement around it. And then you apply some pressure that way. Here’s the thing. I don’t have any problem with with making. The app store’s turned into a wonderful thing for Apple certainly in a lot of ways, but it’s a monopoly I mean, like, if you want to reach the 1.5 billion customers that Apple has on the iPhone, the only way to do it is through their app store, which is policed by a set of very fluid and changing rules, which is another part of the problem because developers make something they pour their life into this stuff. And then they read the rules and they go, we’re, we’re, we’re fine. And you submit and then Apple goes in. Now, that’s what happened to us. Because we’ve been in the app store for a number of years that Basecamp Basecamp is a pay service. We don’t we follow, we follow all of Apple’s rules around not allowing someone to sign up through the iOS app around not allowing anyone to change their billing, not even mentioning billing, not mentioning. We follow all the rules in Basecamp. Same exact rules. We followed the Hey, same thing. We put that in the App Store. They approved us for version one.

Then we

had some bug fix minor bug fixes to submit then they rejected the bug fixes and then they said for And when they should not have actually approved version one either, but it’s in there. Which is a great example of, like, whose rules are they following? There’s but what are they? If one reviewer says it’s okay, another says it’s not, it’s pretty confusing enough to them. How can it be cleared anyone on the outside, and now we’re stuck in this Limbo place. It’s like, we follow the rules. And they decided differently, it’s like, and we were fortunate that we can afford to make this fight or have this fight. We’ve got a successful product called Basecamp, which funds everything else we do at the moment. You know, a lot of developers don’t have the voice are afraid to speak up and don’t have the freedom or flexibility to do what we’re doing here. So we’re doing that that’s what we mean. So we need to charge.

Andrew Warner 55:41
And so does that mean that would you do would there be like a developer strike? Or would you just participate in anti trust issues with the government or what

Jason Fried 55:54
could turn out to be a lot of different things we don’t know yet. It’s just evolving right now. And they just this has been like a day now.

Andrew Warner 56:00
Would you truly app to the app store? If they insisted that you have to give them a cut? Would you take your app out of the way? We will not give them a cut? Here? No way. No way. And if that means that you get that your app can’t be in the App Store, will you? Okay, you’ll take it out of the app store? Yes. And then use it. How do you?

Jason Fried 56:18
We have an accent? I mean, it would hurt a little bit for sure. But we have a first of all, an amazing web version of an amazing Android version. We have amazing mobile web version. You can use it in Safari on your phone, right? So we would show people how right now. Yeah, it works. So we would show people how to set up with Safari, you can save the the hay icon to your homescreen and like use a web app like it would not be quite as good. But we’re going to stand up on principle here because this is ridiculous. So we’ll see what happens. Um, this morning, I filed an appeal a formal appeal with Apple with the App Store review board and we’ll see what they have to say about that. They’ve acknowledged they received it and they’re reviewing it. We’ll see how that goes. There’s an enormous amount of press coming out right now and In the in the EU and there’s more coming by the way in the EU. They’re already taking Apple to task over this starting yesterday on the you know, for the App Store antitrust stuff. So like, the wheels are motion. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what’s going to have bite but,

Andrew Warner 57:13
but there’s no way that they will get a cut of sales.

Jason Fried 57:17
No we will not, no.

Andrew Warner 57:18
by the way, I downloaded the app for my iPad. And at one point in the middle of conversation, I said I should quickly open it up to see how it works. I’m assuming eye opener, fine. I don’t even need that. What I do is I just created an icon on my home screen. I’d like to Safari icon. Yes. Sorry, icon right on the home screen. It looks nicer. And then I don’t have to deal with it looks nicer for most apps. It just works really well.

Jason Fried 57:40
Totally Great. So you can do that. Absolutely. In fact, that’s what I this is alerts. I don’t

Andrew Warner 57:44
even need alerts. The only person I create an alert for was you just this morning as I cycled I said, Maybe I need to know if Jason’s got it.

Jason Fried 57:50
Yeah, we can probably figure out there might be some way to figure that out too. At some point we have we have alerts on the web, like desktop web, you know, I saw that as far back iPad is a little bit different. But yeah, I mean, hey, the web app works exceptionally well on the iPad. And the iPhone, it works great, too. But it’s a little bit look like it’s little bit less convenient, certainly, but we’re not going to cave on this. So we’ll see what happens. We’ll see what how it shakes out. It’s we’re in a very early days here. But the I can just tell you that this is like not off the record on this conversation, because we’re talking about but I can tell you off the record that a number of people, number of people have been contacting us about being pushed around by Apple for a long time, who’ve been afraid to speak up because they don’t have the clout that we have in the in the platform that we have, and they’re not independent. So like they raised money from other from venture capitalists and venture capitalists don’t want them to speak out against Apple like, this is the advantage of being independent like we are. We don’t have to answer anybody. We can say what’s on our mind. We take care of our customers to take care of our employees, and we go to the mat for the things that we believe in, regardless of

Unknown Speaker 58:54
what it means. I mean,

Jason Fried 58:56
look, we know we could be setting ourselves up for significant difficulty. But that’s what you have to do unless you I mean, let’s be honest, like, let’s let’s look, right, we know what’s going on in the world right now. Like, right, this is a very minor cause all things considered with what’s going on right now. So like, I’m talking about standing up for what’s right. But like, there’s police brutality, which is way bigger issue to stand up for then like is your app in the App Store. But in our world, you know, everyone’s concerns and issues are relative. So like in our world, we’re going to stand up for this because we think there’s a grave injustice here being done in the software world, which of course, is a tiny little world.

Andrew Warner 59:31
What’s so Basecamp is going to be on for let’s close it out with this. Now that you are on version four of Basecamp. We’re working on version four,

Jason Fried 59:38
work. Three is the one that’s out version four will be out next year.

Andrew Warner 59:41
What’s different about now how you’re using user feedback from Hey, which is your version one can’t have user feedback, drive

Jason Fried 59:50
it. Oh, so we’ve done Ryan specifically this one of Ryan’s really wonderful talents. Ryan has done an extent and there’s other people in our company have done this too. Extensive number of customer interviews, research diving deep and deep and deep into like, struggles people have not with Basecamp. But like because we never you don’t ask about the product in the way we do things we don’t ask what we ask about the situation people are and what are they struggling to do? What can’t they do? What’s hard in their day? That kind of stuff? You don’t go like, do you use this feature? What do you think of this feature like this, you don’t get the insights from that you. So we’ve been doing this extensively for the past year, we’ve a really good sense of that, plus all the feedback we’ve gotten from customers over the years, plus all the customer feedback we’ve gotten from Basecamp, three customers that we still continue to get so there’s a rich

treasure trove

Andrew Warner 1:00:40
kind of one thing that because you’ve taken in this feedback, you’re going to change that you wouldn’t have known before.

Jason Fried 1:00:48
Well, yeah, I mean, for example, the homescreen in Basecamp, which lists all your projects that you’re working on, is actually it’s not it’s fine. If you have a few projects, if you have a lot of projects, not very Good. And we learned about this. We knew about this internally, but we didn’t really care in a sense. Like, we didn’t it wasn’t a top issue for us internally, you just deal it’s kind of one of the things you’re saying it is what it is. There’s a lot of projects, there’s a lot of projects. But as you begin to talk to customers, you begin to realize like, what do they really want to get at when they log into Basecamp? Like what so they want to see things that are more activity based not like just alphabetical lists, they want to see things like that are more about them what’s on their plate right now that the home the home screen is currently like a list of things they can get to their shared, but what about their stuff? So like, you get into some of that stuff with customers, when you when you start to understand like what their day is like and what’s hard for them and, and then you go Where could this stuff go and you should probably go when you log in and we kind of embellish it. We don’t know if that’s where this is going to end up. But it’s that those kind of insights. There’s also a bunch of insights around scheduling around tasks to do like there’s messages for example, one great one is this in Basecamp today so this has never come up with For us, but this is a customer thing. So right now, when you post a message in Basecamp, anyone who has accessed the project can comment on that message. And that’s what we want, because we want conversation in our, but there’s number of people who’ve learned who just want to make announcements. They don’t want replies. They don’t want to make this into like a discussion. It’s not about it. It’s like, they just wanted this as a broadcast thing. And we never would have even thought about that as a case because that’s not how we work. But it’s like all those little things which ended up becoming really big ideas and big features and different ways of thinking about things. Those come from customers that bubble up

Andrew Warner 1:02:33
in customers, every submit seems to trigger another page load.

Unknown Speaker 1:02:39
Well, you

Jason Fried 1:02:39
Yeah, that’s too specific though. That’s like product stuff. What let me give an example about the, the the thing I just shared with about messages. We didn’t ask people what they want messages. But what I heard what we heard was one particular example that comes to mind is this guy a friend of mine, a friend of mines friend uses Basecamp to run his life. sickle group, it’s got to be like a bunch of guys who they go biking on the weekends or whatever. And sometimes there’s a weather update that they want to share with the whole group. Like, I don’t think we can go Saturday because it looks like there’s gonna be thunderstorms or whatever, right? He just wants to tell people that it’s off on Saturday, right? That’s what he wants to tell. But what ends up happening is he tells them and then some people right back on, it’s not that bad. Come

on, and then all sudden, it’s like,

I’ve lost control. This is not a there was not a discussion. This is not a debate, like I made the call that there’s no peloton, yen or whatever, right? And so

Unknown Speaker 1:03:32
it’s not about the feature.

Jason Fried 1:03:33
It’s about the struggle that he now has that we created for him because people now he doesn’t want to use this feature because he doesn’t want to deal with other people’s responses than having to put fires out and like it’s that it’s that emotion,

Unknown Speaker 1:03:47
that fire,

Jason Fried 1:03:48
that struggle. That’s that irritation. That’s where the idea comes from. Well, oh, maybe we just what if we didn’t have comments What if you could turn comments off? It sounds like an obvious thing, but it has to come from that. First, it’s not like we don’t go to people go, would you like comments on or off with messages, we have to hear the story first to understand like, the deeper like, you can see how irritating that would really be to feel like you’re in control, you run this group, and now other people are making it difficult to do that. Yeah, that’s from the lack of something, which is control. Now, what does he want to control wants to control conversation? Well, where’s the conversation happened? That happens in comments in Basecamp. Ah, what if we can help you control the conversation? It’s not like do we turn comments off? That’s not where it begins. It’s can we control the conversation and one idea is to control comments. But there might be other ways too. There might be moderation there might be. There might be other features, other ideas here, but it doesn’t start with the feature starts with the struggle.

Andrew Warner 1:04:42
Alright, I feel like the best way to get to know that your software is to actually use it. I don’t think I understood why base camp was so powerful until I hired somebody to create slides for an event that I was going to go present that and then I saw it and I got it. And I feel like the same thing is true for Basecamp and It’s true for hay. For anyone who wants to go sign up. The only way to do it is to go to hay.com and get on the waitlist. You know, the number one question that came in to me, Jason was, how do I get on? How do I get an invite? And the only way to do that is to be on the waitlist, am I right?

Unknown Speaker 1:05:14
Currently, so it’s currently

Jason Fried 1:05:18
at some odd thousand people on it now. So just like our the last three days, it grew like crazy. So you have to email us at I want, at hay calm. There’s a little story about email what you love about what you hate about it. Here’s the thing. The reason we’re doing this is because whenever you launch a big new product like this, especially one as complicated as this, we can’t let the whole let everyone in on day one, because it’s just we have to slowly roll this out to make sure we didn’t miss anything. There’s any technical issues. So this is all about a slow roll out over the first few weeks. But after that, like in July, everybody in the world will have access to to sign up for free or for free trial, but there won’t be any invite just for the first few weeks. We need invite so if you want to get on the first few weeks, emails that I want, at Hey, calm H calm, you’ll get on the list. We’re going to send invites everybody in the list. And then once we’re through the whole list, we’ll open up to the public. All right.

Andrew Warner 1:06:09
And I want to thank you for doing this. And oh, that’s what I wanted to get at. I love in your podcast where you don’t just say this. This podcast is made by the creators of Basecamp. Basecamp is project management, whatever, when somebody will say, here’s how I used it to organize my wedding. Here’s how I used it to organize my bike ride. Those specific examples are just really moving. So there is a What is it called? Is it the what’s the Basecamp? Personal? No, the podcast called Oh, our podcast?

Jason Fried 1:06:36
Yeah, rework. Yeah. rework.fm.

Andrew Warner 1:06:38
I always think of it as the base camp podcast, or you want to thanks to sponsors made this interview happen. The first if you’re hosting a website, or maybe thinking of just creating something, go to hostgator.com slash mixergy. And the second if you’re finally ready to hire remote developers, go to top talent comm slash mixergy Jason, thanks so much.

Unknown Speaker 1:06:54
Thanks was great.

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