When Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath and PJ Hyett founded GitHub in 2008, they entered a tough market, with established services such as SourceForge and offerings Google and Microsoft. Despite this, GitHub gained traction and, in July 2010, passed the 1m repository milestone.
After hitting 2m repositories in April 2011, GitHub became the most popular source code repository, based on the number of commits between January and May 2011. This was almost twice as many commits as SourceForge.
This drew the attention of investors, with GitHub raising $100m from Andreessen Horowitz in mid-2012; a move which, reportedly, valued GitHub at $750m. Now, GitHub is said to be worth around $2billion.
GitHub broke through the 10m repository mark in December 2016 and is adding 20,000 repositories per day.
GitHub’s success saw Microsoft, in 2015, move some of its open source projects from its CodePlex platform to GitHub. Now, Microsoft developer Brian Harry says ‘GitHub is the de facto place for open source sharing’ and that Microsoft is closing CodePlex.
A blend of factors has contributed to GitHub’s success. GitHub, an early adopter of the Git version control system, offers unlimited public repositories with unlimited numbers of collaborators for free. It also offers a comprehensive combination of tools, including issue-tracking and code-review.
However, GitHub’s appeal stretches beyond open source software: subscriptions enable developers to create private repositories, while commercial teams can develop enterprise-grade software on a platform backed by a service level agreement.
Today, GitHub employs around 650 people, hosts more than 60m project repositories and is used by more than 117,000 enterprises, including Airbnb, IBM, NASA, Google and Facebook.
It’s hard to imagine life without GitHub; it’s at the heart of what we do, enabling our teams to collaborate effectively and to focus on creating software.
Meanwhile, here’s a little bit of GitHub trivia: its Octocat logo was designed by Simon Oxley, who also created Twitter’s iconic bird logo.
Markku Riihonen is global products and business development manager with 4D Systems