July 10th, 2012
Today we are partnering with Andreessen Horowitz and announcing our first ever outside investment.
The amount? $100,000,000. Even in today’s money this is a fair amount of capital for GitHub to have on-hand. What will this be used for?
GitHub mentions, in several of the quotes posted to various tech news outlets, that they want to make “GitHub easier for beginners and more powerful for experts”. But I think there is a lot more to it than that. I think they are going to tackle every point of collaboration needed to develop software.
Think about what GitHub already has for software developers and designers to work together; source control (the Hub) with organizations, Issues tracker, Wiki, Page generator for marketing, SpeakerDeck for presentations, Gauges for analytics. These are all fairly essential to a software developer. And most of them are useable on most of the world’s popular devices through a slew of applications and services that GitHub has only just begun pushing versions of.
In addition to all of these things, GitHub has a great help section and also does a lot of training and conferences and even co-sponsored a new online tutorial to help newbs learn git. If a software team brings on someone new they can get them up to speed very, very quickly and get to work collaborating in a relatively short time. And GitHub is who helps them do that.
But, what else do software developers need to get the job done? What else could GitHub provide? What else could all of that $100,000,000 help them hire, acquire, or build? Well, GitHub for Enterprise – while a great product I’m sure – takes a whole workforce to build, manage, and support. And while GitHub’s team has swelled very quickly to over 100 team members I’d wager they still need to bring on even more talent in that area to service the Facebooks, Googles, Microsofts, and Oracles of the world. GitHub Enterprise could be the choice for software powerhouses to collaborate privately and locally.
What else? Believe it or not, there is still a fair amount missing from GitHub’s offerings. And I’ve only thought about this for a short period of time. No doubt GitHub has countless options on their table. But, here are a few.
A practical way for people to sell their software (or support for it) through GitHub? Even open source software junkies need to make money. Perhaps GitHub could offer a simple way to handle that transaction or allow people to only get support if they’re a “subscriber”.
A much more feature complete website creation tool? GitHub Pages is great. They’ve got some of the best designers I’ve ever met (and even worked with) working on them. And, they’ve got a few services hidden under the hood (like Jekyll) to help them do some pretty great stuff. But, it could be a lot easier, a lot more powerful, and they could charge more for it
A way to chat? The GitHub team has notoriously been using Campfire in ways I’m sure even 37signals didn’t expect – complete with their own bot – but I could see them needing a much more robust solution as they push towards hundreds of employees spread out over the globe and constantly moving.
A better discovery engine could also be put into place to help people find great software projects. Since its inception GitHub has done a pretty good job showing developers how to find repositories to collaborate on – but I could see this same engine changing into a powerful marketing tool for average, every day people to find great software, plugins, or scripts they may need to download or get support for.
Something else I’ve also thought that GitHub could focus on is bringing git into the workflows of other digital professionals and not just programmers and designers. (Though that market is probably large enough on its own.) Tech savvy writers, chefs, and others have put git to good use for their text-based documents. But what about working git and GitHub into their workflows by plugging into their software? Making it nearly invisible to version their work for them, help them collaborate, track, and promote their work. Something even non-tech savvy people could use. And those types of people are just the low-hanging fruit… I could also see doctors, nurses, photographers, executive assistants, retailers, musicians, and many, many other professionals using the power of git and GitHub to collaborate and version their work in ways that – today – may seem hard to dream up.
With the talent that GitHub is amassing, the momentum they’ve built up, and the resources at their disposal – GitHub could tackle some of the toughest problems facing the tech-using world and release some incredibly elegant solutions.
Feel free to discuss on Hacker News.