GitHub’s mission is to lower the barriers of collaboration by building powerful features into its products that make it easier to contribute.
Chris Wanstrath met Tom Preston-Werner, a fellow developer, through the open source community. Preston-Werner had published some Ruby code that Wanstrath had used and was fond of; soon, they began working on projects together. In 2007 the two began developing a platform called GitHub, a web-based repository hosting service, in a process that took three months. In February 2008, they made it available to the public in a beta version. Their first beta user was Yehuda Katz, a prominent hacker who gave them lots of valuable advice and helped garner feedback from other top developers. They soon recruited PJ Hyett, Wanstrath’s co-worker at CNET, to be a part of the team.
The site officially launched in April 2008, essentially creating a market for paid Git hosting. It experienced rapid growth. Slightly less than a year later, in February 2009, the company announced that it had collected 46,000 public repositories, including 17,000 formed in the previous month alone. Approximately 4,600 of them had been merged and 6,200 of them had been forked at least once. By July of that year, the site’s customer base grew to 90,000 unique public repositories and 135,000 repositories total. It also had 100,000 users. GitHub was well on its way.
The next couple of years saw many new milestones. In 2011 it was announced that GitHub had surpassed Google Code and SourceForge in terms of number of commits for the period from January – May 2011. The next year, Peter Levine of Andreesen Horowitz, a GitHub investor, revealed that the company had been growing revenue at 300% every year since its founding, and was profitable the entire time. In January 2013, GitHub reached the 3 million user mark with 5 million repositories. In January 2015, the firm opened its first office outside the U.S., in Japan. GitHub now has more than 14 million users contributing to over 35 million repositories.
GitHub has a niche market business model, serving a specialized customer segment. It caters to individuals/organizations who need a place to host their Git code. Its two customer groups are:
Individuals: The company offers Personal Plans for developers who want to work on their projects either alone or with collaborators in private repositories.
Organizations: The company offers Organization Plans for businesses who want to host code and manage teams on GitHub. It also offers Enterprise Plans for those who want to host code/manage teams on their own servers or a private cloud with their existing security controls.
GitHub offers two primary value propositions: customization and brand/status.
The company’s system allows users to integrate their favorite tools in order to build a wider variety of software. It provides permission for a wide variety of tools, including Slack, ZenHub, Cloud9, and Appveyor. Also, users have the option of keeping their work private or sharing it publicly.
Regarding reputation, the company claims to be the largest code host in the world, with 14 million users and 35 million repositories. In 2015 it revealed it had raised $250 million in its most recent funding round and was now valued at $2 billion. Its status has attracted a number of prominent investors and partners.
GitHub’s main channel is its website, through which it markets its offering to customers. The company also offers a wide range of free training courses that customers can use to learn more about coding. The classes are available in in-person and live, web-based formats.
GitHub’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service, automated nature. Customers utilize the service through the main platform while having limited interaction with employees. It also provides a thorough “Help” section on its website with detailed answers to numerous potential questions. Customer support is primarily limited to e-mail assistance rather than via phone.
GitHub’s business model entails maintaining and updating its software platform for the developers and organizations who utilize it.
GitHub has formed a number of partnerships for nonprofit pursuits. It has collaborated with the White House and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HuD) to equip low-income houses with free broadband wireless Internet access. The program, called “ConnectHome”, is to pilot in 27 cities and one tribal nation, with services including coding education and technical training.
The company has also launched GitHub Student Developer Pack. As part of this program, it has allied with 12 companies to give students free access to various developer tools so that they can “learn by doing.” Students must be at least 13 and enrolled in a degree- or diploma-granting course of study.
Lastly, GitHub is part of a technology partnership with Clutch, an enterprise-focused DevOps technology and services firm. The deal provides Clutch with access to resources through GitHub's partner program designed to speed implementations for large and mid-market customers.
GitHub’s main resource is its proprietary software platform, which has more than 14 million users, and the engineering employees who maintain it. The company also relies heavily on instructors for its wide range of training courses (online and in-person).
GitHub has a cost-driven structure, aiming to reduce expenses through significant automation and low-price value propositions. Its biggest cost driver is likely administrative expenses, a fixed cost involving personnel and operations. Other major drivers are in the areas of customer support and sales/marketing, also fixed costs.
GitHub has one revenue stream, the subscription fees it garners for its hosting services. It maintains the following pricing tiers:
Personal Plans: For developers working on their own or with others; starts at $7 per month
Organization Plans: For businesses hosting code/managing teams on GitHub; starts at $25 per month
Enterprise Plans: For businesses hosting code/managing teams on their own servers or private cloud; starts at $2,500 per year
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
info: Chris moved to San Francisco to work as a developer after dropping out of college at the University of Cincinnati. Prior to founding GitHub he worked as an engineer at CNET Networks on the launch of Chow and Gainspot.
Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer
info: PJ earned a B.S. in Computer Science at North Central College. Prior to co-founding GitHub, he worked as a partner at Err Free, a Rails consulting business, and a Senior Software Engineer at CNET Networks.
Chief Information Officer
info: Scott earned a degree at the University of California San Diego. His previous positions include Web Application Developer at Reactrix Systems and Senior Software Developer at Alldomains.com. He maintains the Git homepage and Community Book.
info: Brian earned a degree in Visual Communication at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He has held leadership positions at firms in the software and financial services industries. He focuses on defining and communicating GitHub’s business, product, and corporate strategy.