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Zach Holman joins GitLab as advisor (twitter.com)
342 points by mhfs on May 23, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 69 comments



Also see the tweet before that https://twitter.com/holman/status/734842310609899520 "We’re still so far off from even scratching the surface of open, collaborative development tools. We need to speed up, not slow down."

I totally agree with that vision and I'm very glad to have Zach join. He is an amazing advocate for developers and I feel honored that he joined us.

More information about Zach Holman https://zachholman.com/about


Zach's advocacy of GitHub was one of the reasons I became such a fan over the years. Ever since they fired him, things haven't quite felt the same... I don't know the exact circumstances around his departure, but I do know that GitHub lost someone who, for me, had become one of the leading faces of the company.

Of course, maybe that's exactly why the let him go. Regardless, I'm looking forward to seeing him do the same for GitLab. (Minus the firing.)


He discussed the firing here: https://zachholman.com/talk/firing-people


Wow. That really tanked my opinion of github.

   I had been talking to various officials in leadership for a few months 
   hammering out the details and had been under the impression that we had 
   reached an agreement, but I was surprised to find out that wasn’t the case. 
   I was informed 28 hours before my 90 day window closed that the agreement I 
   had thought I had didn’t exist; it was then that I realized I had 28 hours 
   to either come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars that I didn’t have 
   to save half of my stock, or I could sign the agreement as-is and avoid 
   losing half of my already-diminished stake. I opted to sign.
   [...]
   But I still haven’t found the next thing I’m really interested in, which 
   just feeds into the whole cycle some more. For better or worse, that’ll be 
   changing pretty quickly, since I’m pretty broke after working part-time and 
   living in San Francisco for so long. Even though I helped move a company’s 
   valuation almost two billion dollars, I haven’t made a dime from the company
   outside of making a pretty below-to-average salary. That’s after six years.
   
   Think on that, kids, when you’re busting your ass day and night to strike it 
   rich with your startup dreams.

I've read on here about Etsy similarly fucking employees who left.

Those options are worth a lot less than you think they are. One of the wonders of cash is it's very hard for companies to retroactively steal it back.

If you're going to a company that gives options, demand either an 83b or iso to nso flip / 10 year exercise window.


People need to realize options are just options and stop treating them like they are money in the bank. The company gives them to you to keep your talented ass there. The thing about options is they are a speculative discount on you buying something of potentially high value from them.


>demand either an 83b

What you actually need to ask for in this case is RSUs (vs options). The 83b election is something you independently file with the IRS. (you may need a letter from the company for proof, but they'll have drafts of those already that they've used for the founders -- speaking from experience as the person who set this up for our company)

However, RSUs only make sense in the seed stage. Past A round, the 10 year exercise window or an early exercise clause of ISOs into RSUs might make sense depending on the numbers, but likely not.


Can you explain why RSUs are better than ISOs that convert to NSOs on departure?


long term capital gains.

"Which one is better" depends on many factors including stage of company, risk tolerance of individual, legal precedence, marginal tax rates, outside wealth, etc.


The benefit of iso->nso flips is, afaik, it's way cheaper than rsus for the employer and it gives the employee the ability to wait until you're in the money before exercising


Yes it is definitely a tradeoff for the employee. For the employer, the cost of issuing RSUs I believe is tied with the fact that there would be no chance that the employee let go of their shares via not exercising their options (I do not believe RSUs are subject to employment tax).

But if you have 10 year exercise periods, that accomplishes the same thing for the employer's perspective. The difference them becomes the tradeoff for the employee between optionality and a possibly lower tax rate.


This was a great read. More than him getting fired, I was more upset about the below:

  Even though I helped move a company’s valuation almost two billion dollars, I haven’t made a dime from the company outside of making a pretty below-to-average salary. That’s after six years.
I guess the thing was, I was reading the whole article with a 'Shit happens to millionaires' mindset. That totally changed everything in my head.


"I had 28 hours to either come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars that I didn’t have to save half of my stock, or I could sign the agreement as-is and avoid losing half of my already-diminished stake"

Can anyone unpack this statement a bit more? What is "already diminished stake" in reference to? Is this saying that Github made some kind of offer that would let him keep half his vested options without putting any money up, like converting them to NSOs or something?

I'd really like to understand how companies handle exits like this. Certainly it's a valid perspective that employees are entitled to 100% of their vested options. But, devil's advocate: There is also the counterpoint that pre-IPO valuations are very high and based on special terms given to private investors, so maybe there is a rationale to negotiating a discount on pre-IPO exits.

I would like to understand if Github acted out of good faith here to any degree, i.e. where they were not contractually obligated to.

I also understand Holman noted he hasn't "made a dime" from the company outside his salary, which would be completely f'd up. But it's unclear to me whether that's merely in reference to liquidity or if he actually walked away with no stock. It sounds like he did walk away with some stock as a result of a negotiated agreement with Github.


First of all, it's very exciting to hear that Zach will be joining GitLab as an advisor, especially given his background at GitHub being one of the first few engineers hired there.

Given that GitLab and GitHub have similarities in terms of the technologies used(RoR, git, fileservers, cache systems for git metadata), Zach could bring a lot to the table on the technical side. Could sytse or holman clarify if Zach will also get invloved with the engineering department as well?

I really enjoy the blog posts on GitLab, but some posts tend to be light on technical details such as this[1]. Regarding the mentioned post, it would be great if you can provide more details about the exact server specifications, the amount of traffic you recieve, the size and variety of the hosted repos, basically more of the numbers. One of the things that interests me is how GitLab scales and I hope you continue posting updates about the work you do to scale GitLab.

[1] https://about.gitlab.com/2016/04/29/look-into-gitlab-infrast...


> I really enjoy the blog posts on GitLab, but some posts tend to be light on technical details such as this[1]. Regarding the mentioned post, it would be great if you can provide more details about the exact server specifications, the amount of traffic you receive, the size and variety of the hosted repos, basically more of the numbers. One of the things that interests me is how GitLab scales and I hope you continue posting updates about the work you do to scale GitLab.

Numbers: About 1MM projects, >.5MM users. Repos range from smallest to 45GB (although we have a limit of 10GB). I have no quick data on languages, but I'm sure we'll blog about it some time.

Specs: Runs on Azure. Last I remember in total we have >100 servers, maybe half of which run GitLab.com. I've asked my colleagues for further detail and will update here.


Gitlab has been the first "developer tools" company I have been using since fairly early on. I fucking love them, think Holman will be a phenomenal addition, and am just super excited for the new products/services they will be offering. godspeed gitlabs...and I mean that somewhat literally. You guys have to improve your speed a bit, but Holman was there for github's scaling activities, so maybe that is one place they can leverage his skillset.

Also, gitlabs needs to start sending out more stickers like github. I want some.

edit: Congrats to Zach Holman & Gitlab team!


Thanks for your kind words Samuel. We love you too! And we're working on the speed of GitLab.com in https://gitlab.com/gitlab-com/operations/issues/42

GitLab installations on-premises should be fast already. But the nice thing is they are also benefitting from the improvements we're making for .com


Sid, you're a legend mate. Keep up the good work.


Heya, shoot me an email (amanda@gitlab.com) and I'll see what I can do about getting you some stickers. Thanks for the feedback! It's great to hear :)


I'm a big fan of Gitlab, too. Can I also get a sticker? (I can send SASE to cover shipping, if that's a concern).


Definitely! Shoot me an email :)


sent. Thanks!


@sytse (and @holman, now!)

As of the latest Gitlab (8.8.1), my "this breaks Gitlab" commit of the Linux Kernel sources (https://gitlab.com/nrclark/dummy_project/commit/81ebdea5df2f...) still breaks Gitlab.

When I first submitted this as a bug in December, the act of clicking on the commit would cause a Gitlab worker crash and the UI would either hang or return a 503 error. Five releases later, my sample commit still takes 10-20 seconds to load. Once it does load, it grinds my browser to a painful javascript standstill, and I have to close the tab.

Can we get some smarter diff handling on the roadmap? Please? There was a fix deployed a couple of releases ago, but the behavior is still pretty broken. :(


Thanks for the example. For me it loads slowly too (probably it has a lot of disk access) but doesn't affect the browser much. What browser are you using? I'm using Chrome on OSX. Consider creating an issue on https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/issues or adding it to your existing issue and linking that here.


Here's the issue I made a couple of months ago - https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce/issues/14775

As for my browser, I'm on the latest Firefox on Fedora 23. Something interesting - I think it's related to some kind of internal cache on Gitlab's side. Could I maybe get you to try loading the same page in a few hours and see what it does for you then?


Interesting, we do cache things in Redis, not sure if it is relevant here. I mentioned a performance specialist and our frontend lead in the issue.


On it! Thanks for mentioning.


I read his Fired post, and still can't really seem to understand why he got fired. Anyone have a better read on his firing situation?


His writeup: https://zachholman.com/talk/firing-people

We cannot know for sure whether it has anything to do with his firing (and he doesn't mention it in the writeup), but Julie Ann Horvath did accuse Zach of harassing her at GitHub.


The sibling to this comment links to an article about that. This is the first I've heard of the situation, but that article doesn't say anything about her accusing him of harassment. Rather, it says that the two of them were in a relationship at the time, and she accused him of being complicit by sharing information with her harassers and otherwise ignoring the issue.

Regardless of what happened or didn't happen, his close association with her probably didn't help anything.


The article (http://www.dailydot.com/business/julie-ann-horvath-names-git...) says:

"complicit in the actions of both Tom and Theresa Preston-Werner and even admitted to plotting with Theresa Preston-Werner to get women at the company fired. He should be let go from GitHub and I regret being kind to him in previous interviews"

Again, unsubstantiated, but if for example he was just mean but not harassing, that could explain the firing (while Github claiming no harassment occurred).


I think the new outrage culture is toxic.

It's a really tight knit subculture with its own rules and a vicious ingroup/outgroup attitude.

Like goths or old school hippies, they have a distinct way of dressing and signalling to each other that they belong: purple or pink hair, Twitter profiles that specify "he/him" or "she/her" even when it's obvious, using words like "mansplaining", etc

--

Outrage culture is a kind of conspiracy theory: people who are into it see oppression and harassment everywhere, and cast themselves as victims.

Here's a great explanation of the history and ideology of outrage culture: https://youtube.com/watch?v=cYpELqKZ02Q

---

Github has been taken over by outrage culture. Check out this insane story from earlier this year: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11049067

* Leaked internal HR slides talking about how "white women" are often "part of the problem"

* An employee casually mentioning to BusinessWeek that "it's hard to even interview white people"

* One Github executive sending this flagrantly illegal tweet: http://static4.businessinsider.com/image/56b3d2f12e526555008...

Imagine the instant EEOC investigation if that tweet said "black, male" instead of "white, male".

--

Anyway, Zach Holman is also a white male. I don't want to speculate on exactly what went down, but the circumstantial evidence is pretty strong that he was railroaded out of the company in the wake of the Julie Hovarth scandal.

--

I don't in any way defend the most visible opponents of outrage culture -- rank bigots like r/RedPill, Trump enthusiasts, and so on.

I just want to point out that outrage culture is, itself, bigoted and intolerant, just in a different way.

I really respect Zach. I learned how to give better talks from his amazing ones. He was the face of Github to me and I wish him the best!


> I think the new outrage culture is toxic.

Agreed.

> Outrage culture is a kind of conspiracy theory: people who are into it see oppression and harassment everywhere, and cast themselves as victims.

Definitely.

> Zach Holman is also a white male. I don't want to speculate on exactly what went down, but the circumstantial evidence is pretty strong that he was railroaded out of the company...

Oh. It's almost like you forgot the last few paragraphs you wrote when you got to this point. Talk about conspiracy theory...


No, that's different.

Julie Hovarth and Zach were partners at one point. Later they broke up, and after the big story of her exit from Github, she told journalists that Zach:

> "was complicit in the actions of both Tom and Theresa Preston-Werner and even admitted to plotting with Theresa Preston-Werner to get women at the company fired. He should be let go from GitHub and I regret being kind to him in previous interviews."

Source: http://www.dailydot.com/business/julie-ann-horvath-names-git...

This strikes me as unprofessional and dishonest.

Combine that with the statements by the new Github executives who came in after Tom Preston-Warner's departure, especially this rather unbelievable tweet: http://static4.businessinsider.com/image/56b3d2f12e526555008...

Ironically, the new leadership has created an environment of bullying and bigotry. They are fighting what they see as intolerance with intolerance of their own.

You're right that I shouldn't have speculated about specifics.

But I think we can both agree that when someone's being accused of vague transgressions by people this patently biased, fired, and not allowed to talk about why, we should treat that with healthy skepticism.


Not only does this have nothing to do with what I said, but it's also ridiculous even if it had any bearing on what I said. If Julie actually won, Github would have agreed she was sexually harassed. They did not do so, and she was not happy with how everything turned out. And let's not forget that the CEO is still a white male.


I don't think this had anything to do with that incident, as Zach worked at GitHub for a long time (years?) after it happened. Here's an excerpt from GitHub's internal investigation which talks about the allegations other than those alleged against Tom Preston-Werner:

> As to the remaining allegations, the investigation found no evidence of gender-based discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or abuse.

https://github.com/blog/1823-results-of-the-github-investiga...


That's just the public report. It is perfectly consistent for a company to publicly say nothing wrong occurred, while quietly firing some of the few individuals involved. Personally, the sudden-ness and lack of reasons for firing lead me to suspect it was a reason.

I realize this is unsubstantiated speculation on my part, so take this all with a grain of salt.


Writeup on that situation (but lacking any concrete specifics about Holman, it's important to note): http://www.dailydot.com/business/julie-ann-horvath-names-git...


Awaiting a "GitLab advisor here" comment from him...


GitLab advisor here!


I wanted to say thanks for writing your "fired" post. It's good to hear from people who go through that, when most everyone wants to be quiet about it.


Ah, so you're the guy who always beats me to the holman username!


:) I'm still waiting for my GitLab CEO here t-shirt.


You should talk to the GitLab CEO to get them made... oh wait :)


Congratulations on the new picture, by the way. There was something deeply off-putting about that smirk you had before. (Not trying to troll, just giving you some feedback you may not otherwise get.)


Is this the new "X is now a Githubber"? :)

Following Zach on his blog and his talks, I think he has a lot of input to add. I feel this will be good for Gitlab users.

Good luck, to both sides.


Thanks Avi! We certainly think this will be a win for GitLab users.


Wow. The Lab vs Hub wars just got interesting.


Does 'The Lab vs Hub wars' read like a J. R. R. Tolkien book title for other people too?


More like a Neal Stephenson title I think.


More like pulp scifi.


Please tell me he liberated the rug.


You can't keep a good man down.


[flagged]


No, he left Github long before that stuff happened.



Just to be clear, there's no evidence of him harassing anyone in that article.


[flagged]


sounds to me like you were trying to get them to validate your biases by making a statement that no sanely managed company (with lawyers on staff) would ever do under any circumstances.

whatever your issue with Coraline Ehmke is (I have no idea what the situation there is) you should still try to conduct yourself with some kind of professionalism and decorum.

politicization of OSS is indeed becoming a problem and I've seen some problematic behavior from a lot of people involved in political conflicts with this stuff. however, there is nothing more certain to undermine and destroy the OSS community than dragging yourself and everyone around you through the mud because of some internet flame wars that got a little out of hand.


Are you refering to the following issue?

https://github.com/opal/opal/issues/941


[flagged]


Which is a bit ironic, given your strongly arguing in https://github.com/ContributorCovenant/contributor_covenant/... that a user's outside-of-project behavior shouldn't impact that project at all.


[flagged]


"At least I assume so"

Like some might assume a project's core contributor's behavior is known of and condoned by the project, perhaps?


Sure. But in this case, it's highly relevant. She's not being hired _despite_ political activity that's irrelevant to the project, she's being hired _because_ of it.

That makes the hiring itself an endorsement of the behaviour.


Please stop. This is already way off topic, and making it about a specific person takes it into vendetta territory, which is far from the kind of discussion we want here.


Sure; I disagree, but it's both rude and pointless arguing topicality with a mod :)


I can't read... whoops!


s/GitHub/GitLab?


Hey now, don't reveal GitLab's secret trick!


you forgot the /g :)


Hah you're right. I can't read!


<joke>TR-8R</joke>

Congrats, Mr. Holman!


In the words of M. Night Shyamalan, "What a twist!"




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