37signals do some cool stuff (Ruby on Rails and Basecamp, for starters). Over 1 million people use their web based applications. For me, perhaps the most interesting thing about them is their ethos. In particular, I like their forceful emphasis on design and simplicity.
37signals have a book – actually, it’s more of a manifesto – where they explain their principles and practices. Here’s a quote:
Your app should take sides
Some people argue software should be agnostic. They say it’s
arrogant for developers to limit features or ignore feature requests.
They say software should always be as flexible as possible.
We think that’s bullshit. The best software has a vision. The best
software takes sides. When someone uses software, they’re not just
looking for features, they’re looking for an approach. They’re looking
for a vision. Decide what your vision is and run with it.
You can read more from the Getting Real web pages.
Jason Fried, the founder of 37signals, has kindly agreed to speak at Business of Software 2008. I’m looking forward to hearing Jason speak. In particular, I’m interested in whether his principles are generally applicable, or whether they’re specific to 37Signals’ setup, culture and software. Do they apply to incumbents or just the to the upstart start-ups who want to topple them?
You can find out more details about the conference at the Business of Software 2008 web site.