Home > Uncategorized > “Comparison is the death of joy.”

“Comparison is the death of joy.”

A couple of bits of wisdom from the founders of Basecamp, during this Q&A session on their new e-mail product, Hey (lightly edited for conciseness):

Jason Fried (at 1:02:25):

If you compare yourself to another company and define your success based on whether or not you’ve beaten them, taken them on, on whatever, you’re just in a bad spot to begin with. There’s a famous quote: “Comparison is the death of joy.” I absolutely believe that this is not about “taking on” anybody. This is about building something that we believe is excellent, and that we want other people to see and use, because we think it’s really gonna change people’s daily habits. People are in email every single day, and if we can make that better, that’s meaningful. I’m not saying we’re changing the world; but, if we can save you an extra half hour a day, that’s a real improvement. This is not about beating Gmail. Gmail is 1.5 billion accounts. We’ll never get there. I don’t want to get there. We couldn’t run that company. Success for us has always looked looked the same way: would we want to do this same thing again? It is not measuring against anyone else’s yardstick, anyone else’s success, dollars, numbers, none of that stuff; that doesn’t get you anywhere. You got to really want to do the thing again, and if you, do then it was successful.

We know we can’t beat Gmail. Gmail has at least 50% of the U.S. email market. We’re never gonna get that. We don’t want that. We couldn’t have that. So if that was our only measure, we are going to fall down every day and be exhausted doing so. That’s not the business I want to run.

David Heinemeier Hansson (at 1:05:20):

Not interested in a billion users, not interested in running an ad-supported product. We make these decisions consciously that limit the potential — some people would say the “ambition” — of the product, but our ambition is focused on making the best product, not getting the most people, not beating everyone, not dominating anything. If we can make a great product, that’s profitable and sustainable, with a great bunch of people, that’s success.


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