Feeds

Geek darling GitHub nabs $100m investment

Wants to become the Facebook for software developers

The essential guide to IT transformation

Software developers aren't always known as the most social of creatures, but the venture capital firm of Andreessen Horowitz is betting big that the social networking craze will be a cash cow even among hardcore geeks.

The firm, which was cofounded by Marc Andreessen of Netscape fame, has sunk $100m into GitHub, the online collaboration site for programmers that investors hope will become the Facebook of the coding set.

"By orienting around people rather than repositories, GitHub has become the de facto social network for programmers," Andreessen Horowitz's Peter Levine wrote in a blog post announcing the investment.

Not only is this the most cash Andreessen Horowitz has shelled out to a single company so far, but it's also the first time GitHub has accepted any outside investment.

According to a blog post by its cofounder and CTO Tom Preston-Werner, GitHub "has been profitable for years, is growing fast, and doesn't need money" – but it accepted Andreessen Horowitz's offer anyway. We all make sacrifices.

To the uninitiated, GitHub doesn't look like much of a party. There are no games to play, no streaming video, and no LOLcats. First and foremost, it's a tool for software developers, and it's currently home to more than three million software projects.

At its heart is Git, a source code–management system originally created by Linus Torvalds to help him maintain the Linux kernel. Git and similar tools help developers manage complex software projects by storing, organizing, and providing version control for the source code files that make up a program.

Using the Git client, a programmer can check out a copy of the latest version of a project from a central repository, modify it, then merge any changes back into the main branch, all without disturbing the efforts of other programmers who might be working on the same files.

Git is open source software, so it's free for anyone to install. What GitHub provides is a large-scale, hosted Git server, where anyone can store their code and make it available to other developers worldwide.

GitHub hosts open source software projects for free, provided the code is accessible to everyone. Customers who want to keep their code private pay a monthly fee, starting at $7 per month and scaling upward based on how many private code repositories they need.

But what Levine and Andreessen Horowitz think will really drive GitHub's growth are the social tools the company has added on top of the core Git platform.

In addition to code repositories, GitHub allows developers to create personal profiles and post "activity streams" showing what projects they are currently working on. Other tools allow project managers to organize developers into teams, publish Wikis, and conduct code reviews.

Facebook still sounds a lot more entertaining – and, for that matter, so does MySpace – but Andreessen Horowitz is betting that GitHub will become an increasingly prominent presence in the software-development scene, particularly among coders hoping to land their next gigs.

"If you need to hire great programmers, why look at resumes when you can view a candidate's actual work on GitHub?" Levine writes.

No word yet on exactly what GitHub plans to do with all its newfound loot, but it's a safe bet it plans to grow its staff. It announced six new hires on Monday.

It also plans to expand into the mobile realm, having just released a GitHub app for Android.

And as successful as GitHub has been so far, there's always room for improvement.

"I love software development, but I hate source control," grumbled software developer Jeff Atwood in a Twitter post following the investment announcement. "Necessary and important evil, but un-fun to the extreme. Even GitHub." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Intel's Raspberry Pi rival Galileo can now run Windows
Behold the Internet of Things. Wintel Things
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Time to move away from Windows 7 ... whoa, whoa, who said anything about Windows 8?
Start migrating now to avoid another XPocalypse – Gartner
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
You'll find Yoda at the back of every IT conference
The piss always taking is he. Bastard the.
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.