37signals announced recently that they will become a one product company, and are changing their name to Basecamp. They’ve released a number of products over the years, but basecamp has always been their main focus. Now it will be their only focus.
The interesting thing about the announcement is that they are not shutting down the other products; they will continue to run, and existing customers will continue to have access. The products might be sold, but only to a company that plans to continue their operation. Or the products might be retained by Basecamp, and placed in maintenance mode.
Lots of companies claim that they “put the users first.” 37signals actually does put the user first. Their existing customers should be unaffected by this major change. They’re not being forced to migrate to another product.
In 2012 37signals released a major rewrite of basecamp. Rather than force existing customers to migrate, they left it up to their customers. “Classic basecamp” is still up, with the same SLA as their flagship product. Nobody was forced to migrate. My personal account still works, despite my not having used it for a few years: no nastygrams or account suspensions.
I was a daily user of basecamp from 2004 through 2007, using it as the project management tool for my workgroup at Guidant. It was so pleasant and easy to use that it was not hard to integrate it into our daily workflow. Since there was no restriction on number of users, signing up new users was friction-free. 37signals did a great job keeping the product easy to use, and with the right set of features.
This is a company that others, much larger, could learn from.