InformationWeek asks: Is 37signals the next Google? Jason 04 Jan 2006

43 comments Latest by Nik Cubrilovic

This headline is too choice not to share: Is 37signals the next Google? How’s that for a bold prediction to start off the new year? ;)

43 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Dan 04 Jan 06

So will your loyal SVN readers be the first to know when you’re going public?

Ruminator 04 Jan 06

Please, please, don’t ever go public.

dmr 04 Jan 06

Go public! I wanna know how much you guys are making; lol.

JF 04 Jan 06

I can assure everyone going public is not in our plans at this time!

Anonymous Coward 04 Jan 06

The documentary explained that the SETI project has analyzed millions and millions of radio signals from space, and, of these, found a total of 37 which can’t be explained using known astronomy, and which might be extraterrestrial in origin.

Some of these bloggers can be pretty dumb. If millions and millions of signals from space have been analyzed, and 37 couldn’t be explained, how does that imply that the said 37 signals are extraterrestrial in origin? Aren’t all those millions of signals also extra terrestrian in origin?

dtrain 04 Jan 06

No

RJB 04 Jan 06

“…applications live on the server…which means if they go out of business, you’re dead”

I’ve got it! Satchel - It brings you back to life then “gets out of your way”.

Don Wilson 04 Jan 06

“I can assure everyone going public is not in our plans at this time!”

That’s what most small companies in your position do before they actually do go public.

JF 04 Jan 06

Don, I wouldn’t read between the lines.

Tomas Jogin 04 Jan 06

The next Google? I don’t see the resemblance, but maybe that’s just me.

Kris 04 Jan 06

I seriously dig your company and products, but I’m not quite sure someone can compare your technology to that of Google. Yes its cool, yes its easy to use, but in terms of impact on the everyday life of internet users, this seems like a *big* stretch. When you start seeing “basecamp” or “backpack” becoming ubiquitous, everyday terms then maybe I’ll change my mind… “googling” has become the default term for searching the web these days.

Don’t go public. Ever. Keep up the good work regardless.

Dan 04 Jan 06

I was actually joking… going public seems very un-37signals.

SH 04 Jan 06

ďgooglingĒ has become the default term for searching the web these days.

But it wasn’t always that way. Google was the sleeping giant for a few years before people started “googling” by default, and I think that’s the point of the author by naming 37s as their future (most likely) next-of-kin. Something was always nothing once, and it’s good to remember that what we consider small now might just one day be enormous.

SH 04 Jan 06

And one more thing, by saying, “Donít go public. Ever. Keep up the good work regardless,” you’e basically just said, “You’re good but don’t get better. Ever.”

Constraining a company to size just because you happen to be comfortable with where it is right now is a knee-jerk reaction from someone who simply fears change. People balked when rumors of Flickr being purchased were floating about, and perhaps some of their insecurities have come to light since then, but all and all the performance and reliability and functionality of Flickr has improved substantially. There just may be a point later on when Backpack and Basecamp et al could be *better* if the company decides to grow, and claiming this would be a bad thing is short sighted.

There is no reason to fear change, big or small, sold or unsold, public or private. Change is what made Basecamp to begin with.

JohnO 04 Jan 06

I don’t think 37 Signals is anything similar to Google. Google is a “hard” technology firm. 37 Signals is a soft technology firm. You focus on user interfaces, copy, and coherence. Google focuses on be the defacto gateway to the internet. Large difference.

eric allam 04 Jan 06

I like how the guy who wrote the article doesnt even use any of 37s products. Also, I see big similarities in both companies. They both solve problems on the web in an extremely simple way. Why do you think google became so big? Because the front page had nothing on it, and because it worked well. Simple. 37signals? Nothing could be more simple than their programs, and thats said in a good manner. Less is better.

Pete Freitag 04 Jan 06

Like Amazon.com, they don’t have an ad or marketing budget. News about their apps is spread by word-of-mouth and blogs.
I don’t know about you but I have seen ads for both amazon.com and 37signals. I realize that most of your marketing is done via word of mouth, but I think 37signals does do a bit of advertising.

JF 04 Jan 06

We’ve spent a few bucks here and there experimenting with Google Adwords, but it’s near nothing. We also took out a single ad in Print Mag cause we got a special deal, but that was an experiment too. We don’t have a marketing budget.

Ebrahim 04 Jan 06

Go Public, and your investors start ****** up your business trends.

“Please, please, donít ever go public!”

Piotr Usewicz 04 Jan 06

Hey! I saw an article that stated that layer|twenty|two is going to be next 37signals! ;]

Scott Phillips 04 Jan 06

I dig(g) 37signals as much as the next guy but that was a pretty lame article. “The applications are all built in AJAX…” Hmmm. That’s pretty impressive considering you can’t really write an application “in” AJAX since it isn’t a programming language. If you don’t have a handle on the terminology, Mitch Wagner, I have trouble believing your predictions.

Anyways. No matter. Rock on.

Rimantas 04 Jan 06

Constraining a company to size just because you happen to be comfortable with where it is right now is a knee-jerk reaction from someone who simply fears change.

So, growing big and fat encourages change? I don’t think so. Neither do I believe that short-term thinking of shareholders encourages good things to happen.

Alex Bunardzic 04 Jan 06

JohnO wrote:

I donít think 37 Signals is anything similar to Google. Google is a ďhardĒ technology firm. 37 Signals is a soft technology firm. You focus on user interfaces, copy, and coherence. Google focuses on be the defacto gateway to the internet. Large difference.

Same difference. Both google and 37signals focus on end-user experience. The question of *how* are they providing that end-user experience is completely irrelevant. As far as I’m concerned, google could be using miles and miles of Walmart sized hangars full of little green men with hammers, what do I care. I do care, however, about my personal experience when using google services.

Same applies to 37signals. It’s my experience of how I interact with their product that counts. I don’t care how are they doing it behind the curtain.

Think of it this way — I may be using Fedex to ship my parcels to the desired destination. Fedex could be using planes, ships, pony express, little green men on bikes, even Start Trek transporters to deliver my parcel. I really, truly don’t care. All I care about is that my parcel arrives as promised, undamaged, and at a reasonable price.

Eelco 04 Jan 06

Guys, when are you renting a new office to house these rising ego’s? Great news and even though it is just words this is a great achievement. You are an inspiration to a lot of people and that requires talent and a lot of effort… Keep it up!

Eelco 04 Jan 06

Guys, when are you renting a new office to house these rising ego’s? Great news and even though it is just words this is a great achievement. You are an inspiration to a lot of people and that requires talent and a lot of effort… Keep it up!

Street 04 Jan 06

“I donít care how are they doing it behind the curtain.”

Do you shop at Wal-Mart by any chance?

Gary R Boodhoo 04 Jan 06

…even Start Trek transporters to deliver my parcel…

The FedEx uniform does in fact resemble those worn on ST:TNG

Swati 04 Jan 06

I’d think “no”…
I was a big advocate of google when it was starting up…but Google had a whole different field to handle. 37Signals just doesn’t strike it yet ;) But what do I know…

Don Wilson 04 Jan 06

“Don, I wouldnít read between the lines.”

By all means, I’m not. I’d greatly prefer to see 37s head into the direction that’s working. I’m just pointing out things that I’ve seen with similiar companies.

Brandon Eley 04 Jan 06

I don’t neccessarily think that 37S will turn into the next Google. I hope not. I think Google puts out some amazing services, but I also think there could easily be a lot of evil coming from “the next Microsoft.”

I’m much more optimistic about 37S. Are they going to be a multi-billion dollar company? Who knows. I just hope they never sacrifice the products or company for the sake of a cash payout. I doubt they will, though. That’s what I like about 37S in the first place.

eh 04 Jan 06

does google always spout off about stuff it has no expertise in? no. does google have a nice vaporware trend going? as far as i know, no.

google also doesn’t spit on academics and researchers while basing an entire business on the fruit of their labors.

Paulo Ferreira 04 Jan 06

Well… Ambition is something everyone shoud have but I think that’s un unreachable goal…

37signals has everything to consolidate a strong presence in an important (and fast growing) niche like Web PIM / CRM / “GTD” tools / Calendar / whatever…

I think they are accomplishing this with:
* An innovative use of a few “hip” new technologies (AJAX, Ruby on Rails, …);
* Implenting fresh and clean UIs;
* Using, for me, the “right” way to make money from CS development: winning users with good FREE tools and providing PAID relevant extras.

As for Google… They’re it! Every CS person I know would like to work for them… They innovate in a large scale. Last year alone, they gave us, Google Maps / Earth, Google IG, [massified] GMail, etc… And don’t forget, without GMail or Google Suggest, there wouldn’t be the current hype around AJAX, perhaps, not even the word :) How can anyone beat that?

andrew 04 Jan 06

Search engines, email, chat, and mapping, etc. — those are things that everyday people use in an everyday manner. Iíve always looked at the fine products of 37 signals as tools for small biz users and a subset of everyday people - namely anal people that like to use lists and pda-like devices for every facet of their lives. Of course there are a lot of these people, but will they ever match the larger group of email/search/chat/map users in their numbers? i donít use lists or PDAs or any of the 37 signals products for personal, non-business use because Iím just not the type of person who needs or wants them. Google and 37 signals both make great apps, but itís doubtful that 37 signals could reach the level or super-stardom that Google has - simply because it, at least for the moment, makes products for a subset of the internet community.

Paulo Ferreira 04 Jan 06

Correction…

Creators of Ruby On Rails?? Wow!

tom sherman 04 Jan 06

dtrain, you stole my comment.

Ryan Noonan 04 Jan 06

Is 37signals the next google?

I like the sound of that! First, you guys are innovative in your approach to software design. Which, by it’s very nature is “google” like, but does that mean you are the next google? Second, you seem humble about your approach to the software side of things and that is good business. Your development seems worthy of being the top of your field since you develop people friendly software. Again, your approach seems a noteworthy cause to the software world since the end user is the first thing you think of (User interface). Being a web designer I am constantly studying how to better improve every users experience. You guys seem to use the same approach and I really appreciate that! Keep up the good work!
What made “google” truly unique is there ability simplifiy and to never forget to give back to the very people that support them i.e. the web community. My advice to 37signals, don’t forget the people that are supporting you and don’t let greed be your business model. As long as you continue your current path it is safe to say 37signals could be in everyone’s daily vocabulary.

Peter 04 Jan 06

Google is neither small or simple. It’s very large, and extremely complex.

Simple is not the new black, maybe the new pastel.

Jon H. 05 Jan 06

37 signals will sell out eventually, then, JF and crew will move on to new ventures. Heck, it’s only natural.

Alex Bunardzic 05 Jan 06

Street asked:

Do you shop at Wal-Mart by any chance?

Well… um… yeah. But so what? Walmart had the best deal on the Pragmatic Programmer’s “Agile Web Development with Rails” that I could find. Plus, right now they have the Ruby on Rails compiler on special, so you better hurry. That offer won’t last for long!

s 05 Jan 06

s

r 08 Jan 06

Like Yogi Berra might say, it’s DeJa Vu all over again. From the land where NCSA Mosaic first saw the light of day and launched Web 1.0, comes 37 Signals leading the charge of Web 2.0…

Nik Cubrilovic 09 Jan 06

Jason part of your marketing budget is what you are willing to ‘pay’ affiliates for their advertising and promotion efforts.

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