The first year or so of the company reminded me a lot of the awkward teenage phase of self-discovery. GitHub the company had sort of sprung up from this side project, so we never had any big vision or dream or aspirations. We just wanted to work on something cool. I’d love to say that’s all you need, but we’ve learned there’s more: you need to have a vision and a philosophy. Everyone (all the founders, at least) need to be on the same page. The hard part is finding that page.
Do we make web apps, or just do source control? What do we pay our employees? Should we speak at conferences? How do we approach customer support?
I don't hear many people talking about the value of a company vision and philosophy. I occasionally hear people talk about company culture, but usually in an abstract way.
Having a bunch of awesome people increases the likelihood of it happening...
It is easy to label someone as awesome after coming out on the good side of a rough patch. It is much harder to be comfortable in that label when sizing up a potential co-founder.
The question is whether the assumption holds :)
The book is a great read - amazing how well they've institutionalized the idea of a company culture and methos for holding onto it as they grow.
"We generally ignore the advice/opinions of others as a rule. GitHub is the company of the compelling argument – every decision needs to stand on its own merit. That someone successful (or unsuccessful) tried something before might matter in a discussion, but what matters more is how the idea itself applies to the situation."
You can read all about it here: http://www.extent.nl/articles/entry/the-evolution-of-bso-and...
A lot of times I dream up projects I think of as potential startups but often have to ask myself, "Would I actually use this product?" If the answer is ever even a hint of "no" I tend to suspect that I could not dedicate myself to the project wholeheartedly enough to back a business. I wonder if this is a meaningful metric and if dogfooding is really such a powerful motivator.
I find the in corporations where you can throw more people/time at the problem is where it starts to fail. I can always "hack" something up fast, and add a few programmers to make it faster, but the trick is to not add anyone and still meet the deadline (or a bit over, but that gets covered by blowing all other deadlines away).
GitHub is no different. They had an itch, scratched it, turns out other people had the same itch.
"I'm not a businessman; I'm a business, man!" --Jay-Z
Is anyone else wary about the continued existence of gravatar? Even though it was bought out by Automattic, I think it might shut down in the future because it is resource intensive and hard to monetize.
GitHub is an interesting business. Like EngineYard or any other tool oriented startup, its potential is not the same as a broad consumer internet business (like Facebook or Google).
But I don't think Github will be a "lifestyle" business. It already isn't.
I don't think Paul Graham has a problem with this. But it seems like a lot of his followers do / might.
I think there's an important distinction here that is missed and I'm not sure how to bring it up. (Last week I asked about doing a startup outside the US, because the US is not an option for US, and one person presumed we were doing a "lifestyle business" because we expressed costs as one of our concerns.)