DHH vs Apple

June 17, 2020

Basecamp released a new product after years.

Hey.com is an email service that is trying to do in 2020 what Gmail did in 2004 - a fresh new take at email. They’ve managed to make email exciting again. Read the Hey Manifesto for more.

I’m excited about Hey as a user and can’t wait to try it myself. It’s also exciting to take a quick look at the market they are going after.

Purely from a market sizing point of view, email is a huge market.

There’s 3.9 billion active email users in the world. Hey can be a $99 million / year business with 1 million email users using their product.

Not bad for capturing 0.025% of a market.

The launch of Hey made headlines, but the follow on drama has had even wider coverage.

If you’re not living under a rock, you’d be hard-pressed to miss the news about DHH turning up the heat at Apple HQ over the last 24 hours. He only accused Apple of behaving like ‘gangsters’ (grabs popcorn).

At the heart of all this, DHH is simply voicing the pains of thousands of smaller developers who were too afraid to speak up.

But DHH doesn’t have to be afraid, he’s not a small fry. He’s well known and respected in the industry, he has 400,000 Twitter followers.

Also DHH has a strong moral code, unlike the billion dollar companies that influence our lives.

The issues that are brought up include

  • Apple’s 30% tax on revenue
  • Backdoor deals with billion dollar companies who are then allowed to skirt the same rules applied to small guys
  • The subjective deciphering of Apple’s own rules leading to differential treatment to different parties (more here)

There are arguments on both sides

  • Apple should be allowed to charge for a platform they created and where the only way to reach iOS users is the App Store v/s That’s abuse of monopolistic power and Apple needs to open up more ways to reach their users
  • Apple is a profit seeking machine and they are allowed to do whatever is within the law v/s How would the world look if everyone optimised profits and nobody had any morals higher than capitalism
  • Those are the rules, you need to follow it v/s If the rules aren’t fair, they need to change

You can read more arguments on HackerNews threads (1) (2)

I for one love that DHH is being vocal and bringing attention to these issues. Curious to see the outcome of DHH vs Apple.

Keep track as the story unfolds -> https://hey.com/apple/

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