Goodbye, 37 Signals. The venerable, 15-year-old design company has decided to brand itself with the name of its best known product, the popular Basecamp project collaboration tool.
In a posting today on its website by founder and CEO Jason Fried, the firm-formerly-known-as-37-Signals said that, henceforth, “we will be a one product company,” and that product will be Basecamp. Appropriately, the brand change is being made on Basecamp’s 10th birthday. (Apparently, it’s a big week for 10th birthdays.)
The popular project management tool has acquired 15 million user accounts, with more than 6,600 added in the last week alone.
“We’ve had other big hits,” Fried noted. “But nothing quite like Basecamp.”
Those other product releases have included the shareable online document Writeboard, real-time group chat Campfire, the business feedback tool Know Your Company, contact manager and conversation tracker Highrise, and the remote worker job site We Work Remotely. 37 Signals is also known as the originator of the Ruby on Rails development framework, which it later open-sourced. But the Basecampers said that “nobody does their best work when they’re spread too thin,” and it wants to remain a small company (currently with 43 employees.)
Although the Chicago-based firm will focus on Basecamp, Campfire and Highrise support will continue. Eventually, the company said, it might spin them off as separate companies, sell them off, or maintain current customers without adding new ones. The Signal vs. Noise blog about web, design, and programming will continue, and it will launch new online publication, called The Distance, later this year.
The evolution of 37 Signals’ many signals into a single Basecamp encampment is different from the growth of many software companies, which often try to expand their footprint of products in order to weather any unforeseen impacts, like a huge company jumping into its market.
But Basecamp prides itself on its “unusual moves,” such as rejecting over a hundred VC or private equity offers through the years or open-sourcing Ruby. In large part, the newly focused company can take this step because of its extraordinarily wide user base. Basecamp’s relative simplicity, free version, and early cloud model has made it a favorite among a broad spectrum of users, from small store owners and mothers with too many things to do to multinational Fortune 500s.
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