My Response to David Heinemeier Hanson’s Article about Amazon HQ2 Selection

Full disclosure, David Heinemeier Hanson is the single most important figure in my tech career. He’s directly responsible for my philosophy and approach to technology. The first book I read on tech, from cover to cover, was his first book, Getting Real (it’s free, link below). I made sure I read it completely. In the decade since, I can say I’ve fully lived out the potential in that book or in his seminal startup school talk in 2008, but I won’t even be on this track without his contribution to technology, Ruby on Rails.

 

Amazon on the other hand has been my favorite and most desired company to work for. Their pragmatism, minimalism and sound technicality has built the online retailer to become the behemoth it is today, even spinning off other even more successful and consequential businesses (think Amazon Web Services). I once had a phone screen with them and I waxed endlessly like a fanatic meeting their favorite band. Even if I was qualified, nothing good would have come of employing me at the time. I may have passed out if Jeff walked passed me in the office (not likely).

 

Recently, Amazon selected 2 east coast US cities for its second headquarters. I wrote about the benefits and what to expect from Amazon choosing its cities for HQ2. I tried to be as objective as possible even though I’ve heard all types of potential red flags about the selection. Actually since Amazon’s new valuation and Bezos new title as richest man in the world, I’ve seen steps in the media to knock them down a peg, either by criticizing their business practices or their dominance. So how does Heinemeier Hanson have to do with Amazon? Jeff Bezos is a minority non-controlling stake owner in Basecamp, Heinemeier Hanson’s software company. In several talks and articles, Heinemeier Hanson has given incredible insight into who Bezos is from their meetings, on of which is just how powerful is the pen of a man with means. How life changing such a relationship is especially for a team (basecamp) creating a product of value. A connection and resource like Bezos can fast track and scale out initiatives far beyond almost any other means.

 

Heinemeier Hanson, a prolific writer, wrote a pretty interesting (putting it mildly) article about his take on Amazon’s selection of the new HQs. For Heinemeier Hanson to speak out against the ramifications of the HQ2 selection process and speak directly to Bezos caused me to pause. Heinemeier Hanson doesn’t seem the vindictive type neither does he come across as reactionary, so it’s not like he’s lashing out over an issue, but the article does note that they haven’t spoken in 7-8 years, meaning the relationship has cooled. Maybe Bezos was expecting Basecamp to be the Facebook of project management/collaboration, or maybe he’s been preoccupied with other things (global and intergalactic domination perhaps). In the article, Heinemeier Hanson doesn’t bite his tongue, though he seems to bite the hand that fed him. In my opinion, the article will be filed in a rapidly growing folder of articles and content speaking out against Amazon and it’s practices that’s growing by the day. We’ll see how it plays out, socially, politically, and economically. I’m interested to see how Bezos involvement in Basecamp plays out.

My initial Article:

Amazon Chooses 2 Cities for HQ2

DHH’s Article link:

https://m.signalvnoise.com/dear-jeff-a6319829f92a

 

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