In this episode #22, we are talking with David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder of 37signals (, the business that makes Basecamp, Hey.com, and many other awesome products. David talks about the changes that they introduce to 37signals these days, moving off the cloud, the way they test and work with new features, and why launching the next product is not easier for a founder.
(0:00:07) – Moving Off the Cloud
Anna Nadeina is joined by David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails, co-founder of Basecamp and Hey.com.
We chat about his recent move from the cloud to running his services on his own hardware. We discussed the challenges of moving away from the cloud, such as pulling out an enormous multimillion-dollar SaaS business from the cloud to on own hardware, and the timeline of the project. David explains that the fundamental premise of the cloud that it was going to be easier, that you could get by with fewer people has not turned out to be true, and that modernity does not have to be sacrificed by leaving the cloud. He is happily surprised that the process was much easier than he thought and that the technologies have become commoditized.
(0:14:07) – Hardware Benefits for SaaS Companies
David Heinemeier Hansson discusses the transition from cloud services to hardware services. We examine how to make the switch more cost-effective and examine the mental blocks that people have around using hardware instead of the cloud. We also explore the misconception that managing hardware is complex and time-consuming and discuss how modern data centers make it a simpler process than people think.
(0:26:35) – MRSK Changing Operations Landscape
We explore the concept of treating servers as commodities instead of as unique and special machines, and the role that Docker and Kubernetes have played in this transition. We discuss the challenges of using Kubernetes for small and medium-sized companies, and how MRSK provides an alternative solution for these companies. We also investigate the rapid growth of the MRSK community and the attraction of the project to the outside world.
(0:42:01) – Cloud vs. Hardware for Startups
We chat with David Heinemeier Hansson about the concept of learned helplessness and how we can fight for a more decentralized Internet. We discuss the feasibility of buying our own hardware, the advantages and disadvantages, and the various stages of adoption for this transition. Finally, we consider the scarce resource of motivation and how we can all benefit from more meaningful technology choices.
(0:51:20) – Trusting Your Gut in Entrepreneurship
We discuss how poking fun at things and having fun at work can be an effective way of making a meaningful point. We explore being fiercely independent and rebellious, taking up serious issues but also doing things just because it sounds like a good idea. We also touch on the concept of the Blue Ocean Strategy and how it relates to productivity tools and making decisions.
(0:58:36) – Entrepreneurial Humility and Predicting Trends
We explore David’s experience as an entrepreneur, and the successes and failures he’s encountered. We discuss the two home runs he experienced early on and how humility has served him well. We reflect on the biggest failure he’s experienced, an email service, and how the gut instinct of his co-founder Jason prevented an even bigger failure.
(1:07:12) – Exploring the Future of AI
David and I explore the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its current applications, touching on the concept of Metcalfe’s Law and why it is so difficult to predict the future. We discuss the potential of AI to revolutionize the world and the skepticism that is necessary to have when nearly everyone is saying it will. We also explore the concept of late adoption, the potential for AI-generated presentations, and the idea of using AI to write LinkedIn posts. Finally, we discuss the real magic of AI and the childlike fascination it can bring out in us.
(1:12:40) – AI and Job Hysteria
We explore Metcalfe’s Law and the possible implications of AI on our jobs. We also take advantage of the hysteria between AI taking jobs, by giving ourselves five minutes to brainstorm and come up with creative solutions.