Jason Fried: 12 Things You Might Not Know about 37signals

37signals cofounder Jason Fried joined us at Tech Cocktail Sessions last week in Chicago to discuss bootstrapping, remote work, Jeff Bezos, and more. But some of the most interesting parts were the little tidbits he let fall about life at 37signals. Here they are:

1. From May to October, 37signals has a four-day workweek. Other perks for employees include fresh fruit and vegetables delivered to their home (via community-supported agriculture) and an annual vacation (for around $4,000).

2. 37signals employees are free to work on open-source projects during the work day.

3. In the spirit of bonding, the 37signals team has chat rooms dedicated to pets, comic books, movies, and music.

4. When a big tech company experiences a security breach, 37signals practices writing an announcement as if it happened to them. “I want us to do that and feel that rather than be like, ‘Thank God that wasn’t us,’” said Fried.

5. 37signals responds to customer service emails in a few minutes.

6. Despite Fried’s abhorrence of meetings, they do exist at 37signals. “We have an occasional meeting occasionally, but it’s always a last resort,” he said.

7. 37signals doesn’t have a marketing person or marketing strategy. Anyone can tweet or publish blog posts without going through editors or an approval process.

8. 37signals only hires “a couple people a year.” They currently have 41 employees.

9. If one job candidate is slightly better than another in their core skill but a worse writer, 37signals hires the better writer.

10. Every new employee at 37signals gets a “buddy” for 90 days, another team member who helps get them oriented.

11. 37signals employees aren’t offered equity or stock. “I don’t believe in paper money – well, I believe in 5s, 10s, 20s, 50s, 100s – but I don’t believe in certificates,” said Fried. “I don’t believe in future payment possibly if you hit the lottery.”

12. 37signals doesn’t do any user testing. “We’ve found that we make the best stuff when we make it for us,” Fried said.

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Written by:
Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.
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