37Signals, ReWork, and ReThink..

I just finished the new book from 37Signals - "ReWork", and it was a reasonably enjoyable read. (It was actually the first book i read through the iPhone Kindle App, which is incredibly cool)(Would love to see that discussion at Amazon, deciding if they should support the iPad to sell books, or try to starve the iPad to sell the Kindle?.. but i digress..)

There are many, many 37Signal fanboys and signal vs noise has to be one of the more popular geek blogs out there.. but.. its really hard not to notice that what the 37Signal guys understand, more than almost anything is how to market to the current geek-hackernews-entrepreneur crowd. They hit all the right notes to appeal to their target demographic every time.

There are obviously many times when you disagree with them, (like saying that long hours at work is "making up for intellectual laziness with brute force", or their take on formal education, or the SalesForce.com bashing you often hear DHH talk about) but whats clear about all these times, is that they are still marketing.. picking a position, and hitting the headlines..

The Jason Calacanis, DHH interview that showed recently on "This week in Startups" was pretty cool (even though it seems like DHH fans hated it), and my favorite Calacanis discussion point was around the often touted "work fewer hours.. under-do your competition to win" line of thinking. (at around 1:27:31)
  • JC: If your strategy is to make the simple version of things, then you dont have to work as hard, but if you are going up against a big problem, like "im going to build a car company like Tesla" and go against the big boys, you not working 30 hours a week and taking fridays off cause you will get your ass kicked by the people who are, and thats where your logic breaks down.."
  • ...
  • DHH: Do you think Google succeeded because somebody worked 80 hours a week?
  • JC: Absolutely! 120.. they busted their asses.. Sleeping under their desks.. thats how Yahoo was built, thats how Google was built, thats how Microsoft was built.. Do you know the work ethics of these people?
Theres no doubt that they are smart guys.. but its mildly annoying to see the startup echo chambers treat their word as gospel, cause sometimes.. it just isnt so..


  1. nice post. almost finished my copy.

    I am a big 37signals fan, but absolutely agree with you on their (many) failings. DHH can be a loon - sad indictment of the geeks who love him.

    In fact, I think you are right, alluding to their MO. they intentionally take some of these positions to be contentious and to "stay in the headlines". The "brute force" / long hours point is just retarded. Jobs, Gates, JP Morgan, Rockerfeller, Einstein, et. al. all worked crazy hours. Not that crazy hours is necessary, just that successful people are usually OCD about what they do (they think it is :changing the world" - evangelical about it)... so they are very wrong on that.

    also the planning is guessing is also disingenuous. planning is like democracy. not perfect, but useful. and in planning, the numbers are immaterial, but the thought processes are paramount.

    nice one!

  2. Heya.. Agree 110%.. in terms of long hours, i dont think ive ever read a piece i agree with more than "you and your research" by Richard Hammingh. Check it out if you haven't, its well worth the read [http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~robins/YouAndYourResearch.html]