Focus and clarity: two aspects of building a company that many entrepreneurs struggle with. There exists a razor thin balance that consistently needs to be addressed between core growth and spoke expansion. Many companies have lost their ways, or worse yet gone under, due to decisions that took them too far from their base offering. (Side note – foursquare has suffered from identity crisis and some are calling for it to just give up.)
Then there’s 37signals, the scrappy software company out of Chicago (though they celebrate a deeply remote staff), who dropped a bomb on us a few days ago. Fifteen years in existence, multiple killer products, well-read books and blogs, and less than 45 employees(!). A prime candidate for rapid expansion, maybe even VC funding or an acqui-hire. But instead, they announced the future of the company will be a hyper-focus on its most popular product, Basecamp. Oh, and the company will henceforth be known as Basecamp, not 37signals. A message from its founder explained that all other products will be stripped away so they can work solely on making Basecamp even better.
This is a rarity in the startup world and it should be celebrated. Slow growth, exerting full control over team size, and pivoting based on customer feedback and revenue potential.