The founder of ThoughWorks is radical

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:


Singham believes his company’s culture is its most valuable asset and a major reason it’s has been growing rapidly for the past five years – even in the industry’s darkest post-bubble days.

“How do intellectuals collaborate in the 21st century?” Singham asks, then answers his own question: “Self-organizing in small teams, poly-skilled, decentralized, non-authoritative. Libertarians and socialists agree on this, ironically.”

Singham is refreshingly candid about his struggle to reconcile his politics with his approach to business: He wants software to be free, but he also insists on getting paid for his work. “So there is a contradiction to what I’m saying. But I dream of a day when a Rwandan clinic can have free access to world-class software.”

Adds CEO Mather, who is not a socialist but shares some of Singham’s revolutionary fervor: “We’re not here to optimize returns for shareholders, but to change the world of software.”

Although he is press-shy, Singham is not afraid to address current affairs. He’s a big fan of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, for example, and has no compunction about calling it a “phenomenally democratic place.” He especially likes its national commitment to free open source software. He also looks to China, where ThoughtWorks has a growing operation, as a model for governance. “China is teaching the West that the world is better off with a dual system of both free-market adjustments and long-term planning.”

He adds: “I think the left will be reborn in this century.”

But the weapon he knows how to wield best is software code. “A huge percentage of the value created in society over the next 25 years will come from software,” he says. With ThoughtWorks’ radically streamlined processes, Singham thinks it can help the world move more quickly toward social justice.