Basecamp employees depart after ban on political discussions, reports say

The software company's CEO said earlier this week that such discussions are "a major distraction."

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American flags

A new company policy against political discussions seemingly didn't sit well with some Basecamp employees. 

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A number of Basecamp employees have left the maker of productivity software following a ban on having political discussions on the company's internal chat forums, according to reports by several media outlets. This comes days after CEO Jason Fried said in a blog post that employees could no longer have "societal and political discussions on our company Basecamp account" because it's "a major distraction."

"People can take the conversations with willing co-workers to Signal, Whatsapp, or even a personal Basecamp account," Fried said in that post, "but it can't happen where the work happens anymore."

Basecamp didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the reported departures. Tweets from several employees point to recent policy changes as the reason for leaving, the news outlets said.

"Given the recent changes at Basecamp, I've decided to leave my job as Head of Design," reads a tweet from the Jonas Downey Twitter account. "I've helped design & build all of our products since 2011, and recently I've been leading our design team too."

"I resigned today from my role as Head of Marketing at Basecamp due to recent changes and new policies," says a tweet from the Andy Didorosi account.

"As a result of the recent changes at Basecamp, today is my last day at the company," reads a post from the Sam Stephenson account. "I joined over 15 years ago as a junior programmer and I've been involved with nearly every product launch there since 2006."

Requests for comment sent to the Downey, Didorosi and Stephenson accounts didn't immediately receive responses Friday.

Journalist Casey Newton said in a tweet Friday afternoon that around "one-third of Basecamp employees accepted buyouts today after a contentious all-hands meeting" and that "more are coming."

Basecamp co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson had said the company would give severance packages to employees who weren't on board with the new policy changes, according to The Verge. A large chunk of Basecamp's 57 employees ultimately accepted those buyouts, The Verge added. 

The heated political and social environment in the United States during the last several years has caused trouble for more than one tech company. In 2020, Coinbase reportedly prompted an outcry from Silicon Valley executives such as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey when it announced a policy of not debating politics at work. And in the same year, Facebook dismissed an employee after he publicly called out another worker, in a tweet, for what he characterized as that worker's political inaction.