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37signals LLC
Company typePrivate
Founded1999; 25 years ago (1999)
  • Jason Fried
  • Carlos Segura
  • Ernest Kim
United States
Key people
ProductsBasecamp, Ruby on Rails, Highrise, HEY
ServicesWeb applications
Number of employees
34 (2021)

37signals (formerly Basecamp before reverting to its original name) is an American web software company based in Chicago, Illinois. The firm was co‑founded in 1999 by Jason Fried, Carlos Segura, and Ernest Kim as a web design company.[1]

Since mid‑2004, the company's focus has shifted from web design to web application development. Its first commercial application was Basecamp, followed by Backpack, Campfire, and Highrise.[2] The open source web application framework Ruby on Rails was initially created for internal use at 37signals, before being publicly released in 2004.[3][4]

In February 2014, the company adopted a new strategy, focusing entirely on its flagship product, the software package also named Basecamp, and renaming the company from 37signals to Basecamp.[5][6] Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson have published several books under the 37signals name, and in May 2022, citing their present-day focus on both Basecamp and HEY, reverted to 37signals as their company name.[7]


Logo used until 2019

The company 37signals was originally named after the 37 extraterrestrial radio signals identified by astronomer Paul Horowitz as potential messages from extraterrestrial intelligence.[8] Work on the company's first product, the project management application Basecamp, began in 2003.[9]

By 2005, the company had moved away from consulting work to focus exclusively on its own web applications. The Ruby on Rails web application framework was extracted from the work on Basecamp and released as open source.[4] In 2006, the company announced that Jeff Bezos had acquired a minority stake via his personal investment company, Bezos Expeditions.[10][11] The same year, Jason Fried, 37signals CEO, was included among MIT Technology Review's TR35 honoring technologists and scientists under the age of 35 for their ground-breaking inventions and research.[12]

In 2014, 37signals changed its name to Basecamp and chose to focus solely on that product.[13] As of August 2018, the Highrise product also stopped accepting new signups.[14]

In September 2019, Basecamp gained some notoriety for purchasing Google Ads in the name of their own company because other organizations bought the keyword "Basecamp", causing four competitors to appear above Basecamp's own website in search results. Jason Fried called Google's search result policy a "shakedown". A Google spokesperson responded that competitors are not allowed to use trademarked names in their keywords if the owner of the trademark files a complaint with Google. Since the story broke, Google has stopped competitors from using the Basecamp trademark.[15]

After Apple threatened to pull the service's iOS app, Hey, from the App Store, in September 2020, Basecamp signed up to help launch the Coalition for App Fairness to fight Apple's app store policies and "create a level playing field" for businesses.[16]

In 2021, employees raised concerns about an internal collection of "funny" customer names, including some of African or Asian origin.[17] Basecamp responded by announcing several policy changes, such as forbidding "societal and political discussions" in internal forums, which Fried described as a "major distraction."[18] The company offered severance packages to employees who disagreed with the changes. Ultimately, one-third of the company resigned.[19][18]



Basecamp is 37signals' first product, a web-based project management tool launched in 2004. Its primary features are to-do lists, milestone management, forum-like messaging, file sharing, and time tracking.[20]

Basecamp Next was released in 2012, while Basecamp 3 was released in 2014.[21][22] Basecamp 3 supports replies by email, but does not support bottom-posting.


Campfire, a business-oriented online chat service, launched in 2006. It was later merged into Basecamp 3, and was discontinued as a standalone service in 2013.[23]

In 2024 37signals re-launched Campfire as part of their ONCE line of products, allowing customers to buy the software outright to self-host on their own servers.[24]


Highrise is a customer relationship management (CRM) product developed by 37signals and launched in 2007.[25] Highrise was spun off as its own company in 2014 and operated as an independent business headed by Nathan Kontny, with 37signals retaining ownership.[26] In 2018 37signals (under the new Basecamp brand) brought Highrise back in-house, and closed it for new sign ups later that year. The product remains in use by a number of companies.[27]

Ruby on Rails[edit]

Ruby on Rails is a free web application framework created by David Heinemeier Hansson, now a partner at Basecamp. It was originally used to make 37signals' first product, Basecamp, and was then extracted and released as open source in 2004.[4]


Hey (stylized in all-caps as HEY) is a premium email service started in June 2020 by Basecamp. A few days after its release, Apple gave notice to Basecamp to create an in-app subscription option for Hey, threatening to pull the service's iOS app from the App Store.[28]


Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson published several books under the 37signals name.

  • Defensive Design for the Web: How to improve error messages, help, forms, and other crisis points, New Riders Press, 2004 ISBN 0-7357-1410-X
  • Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Successful Web Application, 37signals, 2006, ISBN 0-578-0128-12
  • Rework (2010, RandomHouse) became a New York Times best seller.[29][30]
  • Remote: Office Not Required (2013, RandomHouse), which is about allowing employees to work from remote offices, was also a New York Times best seller. The book was about 37signals' experience with a largely remote workforce.[31][32]
  • It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, October 2, 2018, ISBN 978-0062874788


  1. ^ Caplan, Jeremy (May 17, 2007). "Small Is Essential: With a million users and a payroll of eight, software sensation 37signals excels by doing more with less". Time. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  2. ^ Harris, Melissa (February 5, 2014). "37signals changing name to Basecamp, shedding products". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  3. ^ Harris, Melissa (September 4, 2012). "37signals takes stake in The Starter League". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Park, Andrew (February 25, 2008). "The Brash Boys at 37signals Will Tell You: Keep it Simple, Stupid". Wired. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  5. ^ Kepes, Ben (February 5, 2014). "37Signals No More – Changes Name To Basecamp And Drops All Products But Its Namesake". Forbes. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  6. ^ Fried, Jason (March 2014). "Why 37signals Refocused on a Single Product: Basecamp". Inc. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  7. ^ "37signals: Hello again". world.hey.com. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  8. ^ "37signals.com: What's in a Name?". 37signals. Archived from the original on April 27, 2007. Retrieved April 1, 2007.
  9. ^ Dusto, Amy (May 27, 2014). "How Basecamp grew from an internal project to generating millions in revenue". Built in Chicago. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  10. ^ Arrington, Michael (July 20, 2006). "37 Signals Takes Jeff Bezos Investment". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on March 23, 2008. Retrieved March 21, 2008.
  11. ^ Hof, Rob (July 19, 2006). "37Signals, 1 Big New Investor: Jeff Bezos". Bloomberg. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  12. ^ Vogels, Werner (September 8, 2006). "The 2006 Young Innovators". allthingsdistributed.com. Archived from the original on March 13, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  13. ^ "37signals is now Basecamp!". 37signals.com. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  14. ^ "Highrise". highrisehq.com. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  15. ^ Roberts, Jeff John (September 4, 2019). "Google Trolled by Small Business Over 'Shakedown' Search Ads". Fortune. Archived from the original on September 4, 2019. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  16. ^ "App makers band together to fight for App Store changes with new 'Coalition for App Fairness'". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on March 22, 2021. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  17. ^ "Inside the all-hands meeting that led to a third of Basecamp employees quitting". May 3, 2021.
  18. ^ a b Kessler, Sarah (April 30, 2021). "A third of Basecamp's workers resign after a ban on talking politics". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2021.
  19. ^ Lyons, Kim (April 30, 2021). "Basecamp implodes as employees flee company, including senior staff". The Verge. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  20. ^ Empson, Rip (February 8, 2013). "After 8 Years On The Web, Project Management Platform Basecamp Finally Launches An "Official" iOS App". TechCrunch. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  21. ^ Hendershot, Steve (March 31, 2012). "37Signals vaults from base camp to summit". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  22. ^ Hempel, Jessi (November 4, 2015). "Basecamp 3 Will Change the Way You Think About Work—Again". Wired. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  23. ^ Fried, Jason. "A note about Campfire". basecamp.com. Archived from the original on November 26, 2020. Retrieved April 21, 2024.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  24. ^ "Campfire is now for sale". world.hey.com. Retrieved February 1, 2024.
  25. ^ "37Signals Launches HighRise Contact Manager". TechCrunch. March 21, 2006. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  26. ^ Heinemeier Hansson, David (April 5, 2018). "Highrise is back with Basecamp". SignalVsNoise. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  27. ^ Fried, Jason (October 5, 2018). "About the future of Highrise". HighriseHQ. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  28. ^ Kastrenakes, Jacob (June 16, 2020). "Hey.com exec says Apple is acting like 'gangsters,' rejecting App Store updates and demanding cut of sales". The Verge. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  29. ^ Mims, Christopher (March 5, 2013). "Jason Fried's next project, "Remote," is a book-length refutation of Yahoo's ban on telecommuting". Quartz. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  30. ^ Fried, Jason; Heinemeier Hansson, David (2010). Rework. Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 9780307463760.
  31. ^ Fried, Jason; Heinemeier Hansson, David (2013). Remote: Office Not Required. Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 9780804137515.
  32. ^ Silverman, Rachel Emma (August 6, 2013). "Some Tech Firms Ask: Who Needs Managers?". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 19, 2016.

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