GitHub focuses on developers who are getting jobs in big business, but needs to avoid alienating its sizable individual developer userbase
Multi-million dollar developer startup GitHub, which boasts an impressive user base of more than 15 million developers, says it doesn’t need to focus on CIOs or business decision makers to sell its Enterprise version of its code repository product.
Instead, GutHub thinks that the more it focuses on making developers happy, the more success it will have in the business world,
Its logic is that developers reliant on GitHub will take up jobs in larger companies who are experiencing a sea change and morphing into software-orientated companies.
GitHub offers three main services: the free, GitHub.com service for individual developers, a team-based version that is commonly used in startups, and GitHub Enterprise, where companies can install a version of GitHub on their own private servers behind a firewall.
Whilst GitHub is capable of money making (the company is on a $100 million annual revenue run rate), GitHub Enterprise is where it can really make some cash.
GitHub was founded in 2008, and is effectively a cloud-based service that lets developers publish code online, in an open source environment, where other collaborators can borrow, improve, or just generally have a conversation about the code.
As larger companies come to the realisation that fluid working like using DevOps or breaking down departmental boundaries in developing products is essential to success, GitHub wants to ride this wave of developer success into the enterprise.
“We’re seeing this [GitHub] become something that traditional software companies want to move towards because they recognise that this open way of working is the right way to work,” Kakul Srivastava, GitHub’s fairly-new vice president of product management, told TechWeekEurope.
“We’re also seeing many traditional companies like major retailers, banks, even governments adopt GitHub Enterprise because they’re realising that to be competitive in whatever industry they’re in, they have to invest in their software stack, they have to become software companies.
“Then they realise if they’re becoming software companies they need to attract great software developers, and software developers want to work in these open, collaborative environments. Third, they’re realising that developing software this way is actually more efficient and leads to better quality software.”
With this focus on keeping developers happy, GitHub is hoping to sail into the enterprise as GitHub-savvy devs are getting scooped up by enterprise giants.
“We literally focus on the person who’s writing the code. With that focus, when developers go to any enterprise, they say that GitHub is the tool they need to be happy and allow them to write code. They pull us into the enterprise. We don’t plan to change our marketing strategy, we want to let it speak for itself.”
However, this focus on trying to infiltrate the enterprise could come at a cost to GitHub, and all is not as it seems.
In January, several notable GitHub users penned an open letter entitled ‘Dear GitHub’ that argued GitHub’s management is ignoring developers.
At what cost?
“You have done so much to grow the open source community and make it really accessible to users,” wrote the letter.
“However, many of us are frustrated. Those of us who run some of the most popular projects on GitHub feel completely ignored by you. We’ve gone through the only support channel that you have given us either to receive an empty response or even no response at all. We have no visibility into what has happened with our requests, or whether GitHub is working on them. Since our own work is usually done in the open and everyone has input into the process, it seems strange for us to be in the dark about one of our most important project dependencies.”
GitHub is also experiencing a change in the way it structures its own teams, reportedly going on a hiring spree of sales people to help sell Enterprise to the enterprise, and enforcing stricter, more business-like rules on its staff, cutting perks such as working from home and installing layers of managers, as several executives and high-level employees leave the company.
Whilst Srivastava said that GitHub’s enterprise business has grown fast because of the change that’s happening in the industry, she said that GitHub’s ultimate aim is to keep developers happy.
“Our goal is to serve developers,” she said. “We want to make software development as easy and as powerful as possible.”