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The Github Story

Here’s the story of how a bootstrapped startup became a site with a thriving community of over 73 million developers.

Prithvi Manjunatha

It’s hard to be in the online space and not have heard of GitHub, a website founded by three friends with a mission to democratize coding and has been a platform for learning since. Here’s the story of how a bootstrapped startup became a site with a thriving community of over 73 million developers.

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GitHub is a code hosting platform that was founded by Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath, and PJ Hyett in 2008 when they collaborated on a fun weekend project. Soon they realized that their weekend project had the potential to be something bigger. GitHub has stayed true to its promise; ever since its inception, GitHub has been a free platform. 

As a result, GitHub was founded to give developers the option of securely hosting code and properly managing code commits. As GitHub became more widely used for managing open-source projects, paid git hosting became a realistic option, and paid subscriptions made the project lucrative. Ruby on Rails and Erlang were used to create the software that powers GitHub.

Spreading like a virus

On February 24, 2009, GitHub stated that it has accumulated over 46,000 public repositories in its first year of operation, 17,000 of which were created in the preceding month. Around 6,200 repositories had been requested at least once and 4,600 had been merged at the time. 

GitHub had one million repositories in 2010. This amount had doubled a year later. According to ReadWriteWeb, GitHub surpassed SourceForge and Google Code in terms of total commits from January to May 2011. On January 16, 2013, GitHub reached a milestone of 3 million users and over 5 million repositories. By the end of the year, the number of repositories had more than doubled, reaching ten million.

This attracted the attention of investors and GitHub received $100 million in investment from Andreessen Horowitz in 2012, with a valuation of $750 million. GitHub announced on July 29, 2015, that it has secured $250 million in a round headed by Sequoia Capital. Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive Capital, and Institutional Venture Partners were among the other investors in that round. The company was valued at around $2 billion after the round.

Microsoft announced its intention to buy GitHub for $7.5 billion on June 4, 2018. The transaction was completed on October 26, 2018. As a community, platform, and company, GitHub has remained autonomous. Nat Friedman of Xamarin headed the service for Microsoft, reporting to Scott Guthrie, senior vice president of Microsoft Cloud and AI. Chris Wanstrath, the CEO of GitHub, has been retained as a "technical fellow," reporting to Guthrie.

As of November 2021, GitHub has reported over 73 million active developers and 200 million repositories. Companies like Netflix, Shopify, Udemy, Reddit, Airbnb are some of the companies that use GitHub.

What coders love about GitHub

GitHub has been widely praised by coders and developers alike for its totally free accessibility and a strong community that frequently collaborates on projects. GitHub also has a Version Control in which changes made to the code are tracked. This is especially useful when changes are made in a code and the developer runs into bugs. GitHub has also integrated multiple plugins and APIs (Application Programming Interface). This allows developers to integrate with Amazon, Google Cloud, Slack, and any other software you could think of.

What coders hate about GitHub

Although GitHub does not receive a lot of hate, it sure does have some users who’d like it another way. GitHub has been often criticized for how complex the command-line syntax is. Github also has been known to have bad documentation and the version control doesn’t always hold up to its promises.

To wrap it up…

The GitHub that exists today is thousands of hours of work with the main intention of code availability to the general public/fellow developers. But due to Github, thousands of developers have been provided with a platform to showcase their talent and collaborate with other like-minded developers. GitHub also acts as a portfolio for, as companies can refer to the projects by their prospective employees.

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