Weekend Roundup: Epic vs. Apple, Basecamp’s Epic Meltdown

It’s the weekend! Before you shut down your browser and get outside (it’s nice out there!), let’s revisit some big stories from the week, including the kickoff of Epic’s massive court battle with Apple, and Basecamp’s freakish meltdown over internal issues. 

Epic’s Epic Trial vs. Apple Is On

The long-awaited trial between Apple and Epic kicked off on Monday. Epic, the creator of the blockbuster video game “Fortnite,” is claiming that Apple’s iron grip over the App Store essentially makes it a monopoly, and that Apple’s 30 percent commission on app sales is unfair. Apple, of course, waves off any idea of a so-called “Apple tax” on apps, while arguing that the fee is a fair one in exchange for maintaining the App Store’s infrastructure and security.

Should Epic prevail in court, Apple may need to fundamentally adjust how it runs the App Store. That could ding the iPhone maker just as it makes an aggressive push into cloud-based services and apps. As NPR helpfully points out, Epic isn’t Apple’s only opponent in this area; both the U.S. Justice Department and the European Union are probing the company’s practices.

If Epic wins, it won’t just impact how much cash it earns from “Fortnite” (spoiler: it’ll continue to earn a lot); it could also change every app maker’s relationship with the App Store, including how much revenue they ultimately take home from their hard programming work. 

Basecamp Meltdown 

Many companies in tech are engaging in tough conversations around diversity, inclusion, and equality. These discussions can quickly become tense, and it takes a good deal of managerial skill to ensure that everyone on the team treats one another in a respectful and productive manner. If executed correctly, this process can result in a stronger company.

Then there’s Basecamp. In late April, Jason Fried, CEO of the project-management company, announced in a corporate blog posting that there would be “no more societal and political discussions on our company Basecamp account” (among some other big changes). Anyone who disagreed and wanted to leave could take a generous six-month severance package. 

According to reports, at least 18 of the company’s 57 employees reportedly walked out. That’s an incredible shakeup, and it led Fried to modify his position—a bit. In an apologetic posting on May 4, he said that he didn’t anticipate the blowup, and that he took his share of responsibility for the aftermath, but “the new policies stand.”

A lengthy article on The Verge breaks down what happened at Basecamp internally, and it’s fascinating reading for anyone who’s interested in how one company’s culture can completely implode. The sources for that article describe “a company whose attempt to tamp down on difficult conversations blew up in its face as employees rejected the notion that discussions of power and justice should remain off limits in the workplace.” 

As companies attempt to navigate through this space, it’s helpful to look at Basecamp’s example of situations to potentially avoid. 

Jetpacks!

The U.K.’s Royal Navy is experimenting with jetpacks. You may ask yourself whether strapping a slow, loud jetpack to your back and using it to fly around is the most efficient way to conduct a military operation, and the answer is likely “no.” 

But you may ask yourself whether strapping a slow, loud jetpack to your back and using it to fly around is incredibly cool, and perhaps the next best thing to strapping on Tony Stark’s armor from the “Iron Man” movies, and the answer is 110 percent “yes.”

Just watch this video. We’re not wrong.

The future is here, thanks to whatever mad geniuses decided to make a person-sized engine actually work.