The Scientologists of Web 2.0

It is 2:48 AM and we are cranking away here at Xobni Headquarters. We have Drew Houston from Accolade Prep, an online SAT prep startup, working with us temporarily. There is nothing like a bunch of guys streaming out lines of code in the middle of the night. Every once in a while we will all poke our heads up and start discussing one of our favorite topics: girls, other companies, or famous startup personalities.

Tonight’s discussion was spurred by a design decision Adam and I made. We reduced the number of options a user would have when using our first product, Xobni Statistics. It decreased the amount of coding we would have to do, and will simplify the users’ experience. We took the easy 37Signals‘ way out.

For those that are not familiar with 37Signals, it is a software company that has received a lot of attention due to their stated motto: “Join us and say goodbye to bloated software.” Their strategy is to sacrifice functionality for simplicity. So far they seem to have developed a following; they supposedly have 500,000 users.

Drew commented that “The 37Signals guys are the Scientologists of Web 2.0”. Like their religious counterparts, 37Signals advises their followers to take “the easy way out.” Like not having the rules of a strict religion, doing the easy thing allows them plausible deniability. When a user asks, “why can’t I put a picture here” 37Signals would say, “your life will be easier because you can’t.” Some times additional functionality is not needed; other times the developer might just be lazy.

Dharmesh Shah, the author of, posted a good article about 37signals titled “Less Is Sometimes Less.” We agree.

1 Response to “The Scientologists of Web 2.0”

  1. 1 Basil Skinner November 12, 2008 at 5:21 pm


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Xobni’s contact management products offer lightning fast email search and organization of your inbox, as well as an innovative and comprehensive address book for the mobile device.


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