Geeks love GitHub, an online tool for organizing programming projects and communicating about them. And now GitHub-the-company, which has been bootstrapped so far, is getting a $100 million input from Andreessen Horowitz. It's the venture company's largest investment to date.
GitHub is the online interface for Git, a fine-grained tool for managing software development. Git was created by Linus Torvalds.
GitHub was designed to organize open-source projects but can be, and is, used for all types of projects. The service is free for open-source users, but makes money by selling licenses for commercial and corporate use. Enterprise buyers can also license the GitHub software itself to run on their own servers.
The company reports that there are more than 3 million software repositories hosted on GitHub, and that it's used by 1.7 million developers. CEO Tom Preston-Werner won't break down how many paying users GitHub has, nor how many are on the hosted compared to the software version, but he says the company has been self-sustaining on its paid plans.
And while GitHub has "been talking to VCs since the early days," Preston-Werner says the potential relationships "never really felt right" until the deal with Andreessen-Horowitz.
A/H partner Peter Levine, former CEO of XenSource, will join the GitHub board. Asked why his venture firm is pumping so much money into a startup that has been self-sustaining to date, Levine says, "The very nature of what GitHub is doing, social coding, will accelerate the development of mobile apps, on-premises apps, backend or enterprise services, whatever. It breaks down the silos within corporations and between partners."
Levine says that as developers build more online and mobile apps that work across each other -- and across companies -- they need greater communication and codebases that are more open and less siloed. He maintains that GitHub's capability to provide this has led to its viral growth.
What will the bootstrapped company do with its overflowing bank balance? Neither Levine nor Preston-Werner would lay out their plans, but with that balance, acquisitions are a definite possibility.
The CEO added that the funds "will help us build GitHub everywhere. It should work for students, up to users in gigantic enterprises, and across all platforms. Wherever you're developing, it should be there for you -- on Linux, a Mac, Windows, and on mobile, to check on the social aspects of a project."
Preston-Werner adds that he's interested in "the third dimension: working across professions." GitHub may release specific tools for designers and technical writers, for example. His goal is to make the system useful for "anyone working around software."
GitHub competitor Atlassian is on the IPO track, and reports $100 million in revenues.