If you aren't familiar with who Jason Fried is, you should be. Jason is the Founder of 37 Signals, makers of Basecamp, with over 3 million users and 2.8 million live projects, arguably the world's most popular project management software.
Jason is also the author of Rework, a New York Times bestseller on entrepreneurship, technology, and design.
Basecamp is the project management and collaboration tool of choice for the serious entrepreneur. In addition to being a fantastic piece of software (more on that in a bit), it is also a prototype of where all of the smart money in technology investing is these days.
Namely, on the cloud.
How ubiquitous is cloud, or software-as-a-service (SaaS) computing? Statistics that show the market for it growing to $160 billion next year only tell half of the story.
Just take any week of venture financings these last few years and you will find that almost all of the companies funded to be cloud-delivered software businesses.
Doubt me? Let’s look at the venture financings from A – F from last week to make the point:
8D World (Woburn, MA), Developer of a virtual world for learners of English as a foreign or second language - $5.25 million. Cloud.
Abcast (Camas, WA), Operator of digital radio platform - $500 thousand. Not Cloud.
Apperian (Boston, MA), Maker of mobile applications - $500 thousand. Cloud.
Communication Intelligence Corp (Redwood City, CA), Supplier of electronic signature solutions for businesses - $2.2 million. Cloud.
DigitalTown (Burnsville, MN), Developer of a national network of online communities for high school students, alumni and boosters. $10 million. Cloud.
DiJiPop (Providence, RI), Provider of on-demand shopper marketing platform - $1 million. Cloud.
DocuSign (Seattle, WA), Provider of electronic signature technology - $27 million. Cloud.
Echo360 (Dulles, VA), Provider of Internet audio and video technologies - $1 million. Cloud.
Factual (Los Angeles, CA), Provider of collaborative data platform and web services -$25 million. Cloud.
FleetMatics (London, United Kingdom), Developer of GPS tracking applications for commercial fleets - $68 million. Cloud.
Fluent Mobile (Boston, MA), Developer of mobile marketing software - $5.5 million. Cloud.
Flurry (San Francisco, CA), - Provider of mobile analytics services - $15 million. Cloud.
For those counting at home, that’s 10 out of 11.
And oh yes, then there are little companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Twitter. All, at heart, cloud computing.
So what is it about Basecamp? In a sea of mediocrity, it stands out with its speed, its ease, and its elegance.
Basecamp Runs Fast. What is more frustrating for the modern consumer than waiting to log-on, for a server response?
More to the point is relative waiting. 15 years ago, on dial-up modems we had a certain expectation of speed. Today we simply rate one piece of cloud software against another.
Google to Yahoo. Facebook to LinkedIn. Expedia to Travelocity.
Basecamp runs Google fast and its speed alone makes it a joy to use.
Basecamp Runs Easy. Given the potential complexity of Basecamp's core application - namely to manage projects of all types and sizes, Basecamp runs easy. Its basics can be understood at signup, and its more advanced features in a few weeks of use.
Basecamp is Elegant. Fast and easy get you a seat at the table, elegance gets you customers for life.
Elegant is a word seldom-used when describing software because it is rarely built to please in a way that products in the traditional domain of elegance - luxury consumer goods - are.
One of the great wonders of modern living is that we can experience elegance viscerally at the movies or on TV, or via physical products like cars, shoes, and the like.
Now with software like Basecamp we can experience elegance in a manner that approaches the “singularity,” where one’s mind and spirit meshes with the machine.
Not in a dark science fiction sense, but with software like Basecamp in a manner that appeals to our best, most creative, collaborative, just plain old getting things done selves.
Basecamp has this kind of elegance.
And its existence is a testament to the entrepreneurial and design spirit that is Jason Fried.
He and his cloud creation Basecamp - fast, elegant, and easy-to-use - are modern treasures.
Find the Jason Fried's of the world before they are rich and famous. And back them and grow with them.
And you and the world will be better for it.
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