Skip to content

Why I Ditched Basecamp

Project management isn’t easy. Having the right tool is important to get everyone involved in a project continually on the same page. For a long time Basecamp was that product for Block 81. That’s no longer the case.

Basecamp made a huge mistake

Basecamp, the product, is far from perfect. But it worked just fine for our clients and projects.

Basecamp, the company, is also far from perfect. But in April of 2021 they proved to be a company I want nothing to do with. The short version of the story is that the two founders of Basecamp chose to sweep difficult conversations about “societal and political” issues under the rug rather than learn from their mistakes and become better people and a better company.

Unfortunately the short version of the story doesn’t do it justice. I thought about summarizing my understanding of what happened at Basecamp but realized two writers have done a far better job than I could. I’ll offer my thoughts in a bit, but for now, I encourage you to read the following:

When I was learning about all of this in real-time, many, many Twitter comments/replies went along the lines of “No politics at work is a good idea!” Honestly, that seems like a good idea on the surface. The issue, to put it equally simply, is that some people’s lives are inherently political. As Sheree Atcheson wrote, “To assume people can disconnect and be apolitical means politics, as they currently stand, work for them and they’re able to do this. For marginalized folks, this isn’t possible.” I can’t emphasize enough how true this is.

As a queer woman, an immigrant, and a person of color, political issues often impact me in more direct ways than others. At the same time, I am more privileged than fellow minorities. I’m aware of both. And because of both, and because of who I am at my core, I cannot justify giving my money to a company that is so blatantly blind to their own actions and how it affected their best asset: their employees. Being complacent is being complicit – I don’t want to be either.

My decision to cancel Basecamp last month may not impact their bottom line, but it certainly makes a difference to me.

The alternative(s)

Puh-lenty of project management tools abound. It took me a bit of time but by May I had narrowed it down to two: Teamwork and ActiveCollab.

Initially I had decided to go with Teamwork, but after a few weeks of using it, I decided against it. While the pricing was perfect, the UI and general experience of using it was less than great. I found it terrible to look at and ok to use as a result. The feature set just wasn’t good enough for me to overcome a crappy UI.

So I made the switch to ActiveCollab. The UI is far better than Teamwork’s and in some respects better than Basecamp’s UI. I started out with their cloud version, but it required an add-on to allow clients to add and assign tasks. With nearly a dozen site maintenance clients, this would’ve been more expensive than Basecamp. So I went with their self-hosted version. The first year costs $1999 which is still more expensive than Basecamp, especially if you add the hosting costs. Subsequent annual renewals, which are optional, are half of that (or less if you renew within two weeks of support expiry).

After using ActiveCollab for roughly six months, I can say I’m pretty happy with it and clients have been using it without issue (to my knowledge anyway). I can wholeheartedly recommend it. If you want to know more about it, let me know – happy to answer any questions!