Jeff Bezos makes money from Basecamp just like we do. Since he owns a piece of the company, he gets his share of the profit distributions on an annual basis. And since we’ve been profitable every year, he’s received distributions every year since his original investment. He’s made his money back and more. And ever year he makes more. No exit ever required to see a return on his investment. Simple.
As far as recruiting without offering equity, you’ll have to ask people why they work here — everyone has different reasons. We believe we’ve created a calm, comfortable, challenging, and respectful place to work. A place full of trust — a place where people are in charge of their own work, their own time, and their own lives. 40 hours a week, top salaries, the best benefits, no rushing. Everyone here is smart, thoughtful, at the top of their game, and enjoyable to be around. No office politics, no meetings, no bullshit , no gasping for air— just a great place to do the best work of your career with some of the best people you’ll ever meet. We find people who value those things. But that’s just my take ;)