What GitHub will do with its $250 million series B

The leading cloud-based code repository and version control system forges ahead on its global mission with a new infusion of capital

What GitHub will do with its $250 million series B

Yesterday, GitHub, the largest cloud-based code repository in the known universe, announced that it had secured a series B funding round amounting to $250 million, led by Sequoia Capital with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive Capital, and Institutional Venture Partners.

Three years ago, Andreessen Horowitz handed $100 million to GitHub, an eye-popping amount (at the time) that compelled me to ask then-CEO Tom Preston-Werner what he planned to do with the money. He talked about further investment in the development of GitHub's enterprise business -- and hinted that GitHub's collaborative platform might extend beyond code to other areas (explored by InfoWorld contributor Jon Udell in a recent feature article).

Today, I asked GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath the same question: What did he intend to do with all that capital? His response was that the company would use the money to accelerate its growth, particularly in Asia and Australia. Aside from a newly opened office in Japan:

We don't really have our own people there to work with the community and take their feedback and be a part of it. That's something we've really prided ourselves on: Hosting meetups, getting involved with the community, hosting our own workshops, letting people come in and throw meetups at our offices. We really want to be on the ground in the community. GitHub is not strictly a digital thing. It's really about people. We want to be there with them integrating.

Wanstrath also noted that GitHub would be investing further in developing the flagship GitHub product. "I think this is going to help us take some risks and try out some crazier ideas that we've had about the core GitHub product in the past couple of years."

Although Wanstrath wouldn't go into detail about those crazy ideas, he was clear about what they were not about: GitHub seems more focused than ever on developers and their central issues. Other uses of the platform, such as the traction GitHub has gotten in legal and government circles, is largely peripheral and organic. "If we're talking about non-development workflows, that's not really our focus," he says.

In speaking with Wanstrath, GitHub appears to be preaching the gospel of open source and the open source paradigm of software development more than ever. This has become part of GitHub's enterprise sell. As enterprises realize how central the software they build is becoming to their business, they're jealous of the speed at which they see startups moving, and they want to move beyond the slow, low-quality enterprise software of the past.

"CIOs and sometimes even CEOs of major companies are becoming directly involved in the GitHub purchasing decision," says Wanstrath. "Companies are trying to figure out how to have one development workflow. They believe that's a way to actually build software faster."

In the end, I'm not sure I was more successful in determining exactly what GitHub would do with its funding than I was three years ago. During that time, however, GitHub has become the de facto repository for coders everywhere, particularly those involved in open source  -- and Wanstrath has positioned himself as a leading advocate for that global community.

"We see ourselves as empowering developers," he says. "So if it's something developers want, that's the direction we're going to go."

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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