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Matz (creator of Ruby) joins Heroku (heroku.com)
578 points by jamesheroku on July 12, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 75 comments

Wow, nice move, guys!

One of the things I always admired about Linus is that he managed to stay very neutral amongst all the Linux vendors. Back in the dot com days, he could have had pretty much anything he wanted from Redhat, VA Linux, Linuxcare, etc... etc.... but he managed to stay with Transmeta, and then go to the Linux Foundation, which is neutral territory. That's allowed him to focus on Linux without having a Corporate Overlord, benign though it may be.

I've always dreamed of a world with more things like the Linux Foundation. I'd love to see a Ruby foundation or something like that

Ruby Central? http://rubycentral.org/

Wow, why didn't I know about that already! Anyone know if they have plans to fund developers?

Like the Python Software Foundation?

One of the problems with open source software is that it can be very difficult to capture some of the value that people get from it, and cycle it back to the creators/workers of some project. Except, of course, for code contributions, but you can't pay the rent with those.

Be the change you'd like to see.

He did receive stock options from them

Oh yes, he received oodles of options and all kinds of perks. However, he never went to work for any of them, despite all the plying and feting.

Interesting note:

With Rasmus Lerdorf working at WePay, this means the creators of the two most presently popular web programming languages, Ruby and PHP, are now working for YC companies.

(Which is a teency stretch since Heroku is now SalesForce and hence no longer really a YC company, but we'll count them to keep it interesting.)

Hmm, hate to knock the steam out of my own post, but it seems Lerdorf was only at WePay for one year and left in April:


"Architecture, API, OAuth, Fraud work." - http://www.linkedin.com/in/rlerdorf

Anybody knows the truth on "Fraud work"?

Edit: "Fraud work" at WePay (YC)

I'd love to know how Ruby is one of the two most popular web programming languages. I love ruby but from what I see here in NYC, I'd say python is more popular. Are we trading anecdotes here? Or is that two most popular based on a metric from somewhere?

Based on anecdotal evidence it seems like python is generally much more popular then ruby, being frequently used for just about any general purpose programming (other then some speed sensitive and low level stuff) such as os scripting, application scripting, web programming, number crunching, desktop applications, ect.

While ruby(usually rails) is unfortunately only popular for web programming (probably because python is a very similar language that out-competes it, partially due to specialized libraries and more stable interfaces) where it seems to be more popular then python.

I'll throw in my anecdotal evidence as well then. At work use ruby for a lot of configuration management with puppet mainly due to it just being easier to just throw some extra ruby in place than shell out to another script. So ever so slowly we have been getting more and more ruby into our "enterprise".

We also have another more "corporate" type piece of software that uses python that gets... less use, but that is more due to it really being written in java and having performance closer to a glacier. Which is why we have puppet now in the first place.

I've used both ruby and perl for equal amounts of time, and I've recently started to use it at work to replace old perl and shell I have. That and I've switched vm's to rubinius so those old "ruby is slow" gripes to be honest never cause problems. That and having a jit+vm that isn't java on each of our os's is really awesome.

Don't get me wrong, Python is a great language but you are 100% right, there isn't much need for learning both Ruby and Python. They both are roughly equivalent featurewise, but they both take completely different roads about how you approach general purpose programming. That said I know both but rarely use my Python knowledge much. But it does have some great libraries out there for numeric computation/etc... I also know of a few companies that use ruby as their goto language to get failing (java) projects out of the door.

Disclaimer: I never use rails at all, haven't since I looked at it source in the 1.x days. Was REALLY put off with all of the monkey patching they did.

Doh I forgot to mention puppet.

We track the programming language that our customers are using on sign up. Our customers aren't particularly early-adopter-ish, so I assume it's a reasonable approximation (taken over a decently large sample of sites):


See also:


Or even (this one surprises me, since I figured Python generally would come out on top when not selecting for web stuff):


Yeah, without some numbers it's hard to exclude Python here.

And, as sad as it is, Java and C# which are heavyweights of pretty much anything corporate-produced.

You're reading too much into the words.

You me reading the words right. He said, "two most popular", which they aren't.

Ruby is popular in the sense of Rails and the tools that it has spawned to help us web workers better deal with the web...my 02c

Doesn't Rasmus Lerdorf "hate" programming, though?[1] I don't think he's on the same "level" as Matz regarding their languages and the passion behind them because of this.

"There are people who actually like programming. I don't understand why they like programming."

[1] http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Rasmus_Lerdorf

I take that and other similar things he has uttered in the past to mean that he puts pragmatism over perfectionism. He wraps it in a self-deprecating tone of humor, which may come out as ignorant but is in fact just him being humble. Or that's how I understand him anyway.

It's a bit of hyperbole on his part, but yeah, I think he likes seeing how something ought to be done, and doesn't enjoy sitting down and actually pecking at the keys to make it happen. I can understand that.

Speaking of dot coms and Linuxcare and such, much as I don't care for working with PHP, Rasmus is a really smart, friendly and nice guy who is well worth talking with even if his language is not 'hip'.

"I don't like writing, I like having written." - Ernest Hemingway

Is there a source for that Hemingway quote?

I totally lack context, here, but when I saw that quote, my first thought was, "With the tastes you showed in creating PHP, it's no wonder you hate programming."

It is very easy to bash him but he must have done something right and he deserves the credit for it.

Javascript seems a tad more popular than Ruby.

Only on the client ;)

only on the browser, although some people do use desktop gui library bindings to javascript.

Ruby isn't as popular as python, java, or javascript, http://langpop.com/, where did you get your data from?

Python is more widely used than Ruby overall but Rails alone is far more popular than all the Python web frameworks combined.

I love it when I don't even have to promote my site myself in these discussions, thanks:-)

Had the site taken Github into consideration, things would have been different.

Also worth noting that Simon Willison of Django fame is also cofounder of a YC company.

I remember when RubyGems got forked as SlimGems, there was a discussion about Rails' importance in the overall Ruby community. patio11 wrote:

I use Rails, and love Rails, but back home Rails is not yet the core Ruby use case, not by a long shot. Rails has peculiar needs with regards to typical Ruby applications, and a certain portion of the developer community feels that people who write themselves peculiar needs can write their own solutions to them. [1]

With Matz working on the most Rails-oriented hosting platform, perhaps this will change.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2621376

I don't think matz was ever unaware of how important rails is. But what I assume patio11 meant is that most of the japanese devs may not have that as a priority, changing the priorities of a single person would not change much.

Although it's a pretty important single person, and may bring much greater awareness of the "westerner" ruby community among core developers.

Yeah because Matz never really left japan, or spoke to "westerner" developers before. So this will be a HUGE change... seriously?

This is really great to see. It's so seldom that a company goes from strength to strength post acquisition. With notable exceptions like Android, companies at best hold their trajectory while most disintegrate.

Heroku just keeps getting better though. The releases of things like Cedar and node support are a huge indication of the platform's forward momentum and this news is quite the coup d'etat. Kudos to the Heroku team and Kudos to Salesforce for an acquisition gone right.

Completely agree with this. So many mid sized (read::fairly cool) startups are being swallowed by large companies these days, just to be salvo-ed in a basement and eventually lost.

I figured Heroku would have had the same fate, glad they are (without a doubt) blazing on.


I like the idea of Heroku going the same way as EngineYard. And investing in technology.

But dreww is correct, he's keeping his other positions so is this merely a marketing and bragging rights thing?

'Marketing and bragging rights' sounds critical to me. In an interview[1][2], Matz describes it this way:

>> He [Mark Benioff, CEO of Salesforce] said he could provide us some support and that's why I decided to join Salesforce.com through Heroku (Note: Several members of Ruby Core are currently under negotiation to join Heroku).

>> So, the core of our work will not change. Our mission is to develop Ruby Core, to make Ruby more functional and higher quality. Having said that, I am expecting that the job security we are being provided and Ruby usage feedback we get from heavy Ruby users such as Heroku will accelerate the progress of Ruby development. Otherwise, there would be no point to accepting the offer.

The "support" there refers to a conversation between Benioff and Matz where Matz said a primary concern of his was for Ruby devs who either work on Ruby in their spare time or worry about job security. It sounds like Salesforce is committed to helping by hiring multiple Ruby-core devs. I think that's very real support, not just PR of any kind.

[1] http://blog.new-bamboo.co.uk/2011/7/12/translation-of-matz-q...

[2] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2757134 (HN thread on the Matz interview (so far, no comments)

"Bragging" might be a bit hard; I'd say they're happy/honored to give back to an awesome community.

This is totally awesome, and is a huge boon for both Heroku and Ruby, but I'd much prefer to see them hire Rich Hickey or Guido van Rossum or Martin Odersky or ...well, the list goes on. Heroku is already knows Ruby cold, they should be on-boarding the people that can help them bring their A-game to other platforms. I look forward to a world where I can ask myself the question "which platform is quickest to get up and running on" and have the answer be a list with 10 entries. Lots of people are trying this, but Heroku has the experience to make it work.

Well they have the Ring dude for clojure so...

I wonder how his Rite project is going (Ruby Lite, an "embeddable Ruby") Wasn't the project sponsored by the Japanese government? Really looking forward to its release :)

Very cool. I wonder what Matz will work on directly for Heroku. I understand that he will continue to work on the language, but what new things can we expect to see from Heroku as a platform?

> what new things can we expect to see from Heroku as a platform?

I think his presence there will serve two purposes: 1) share his Ruby cachet with Heroku, and 2) when Heroku finds a way to improve Ruby, they have a way to fast-track it now, big time.

It seems it's more about giving focus to the ruby dev effort, and (paraphrasing from Matz) getting feedback from Heroku as to how ruby can be adapted to fit more comfortably in a cloud computing environment.

Congrats to Heroku - it's certainly a fitting parternship! I wouldn't put anything past them. With such an amazing team and insatiable ambition, they're going to be leaving a mark on history.

It's very interesting that the creators of Python and Ruby are working on PaaS hosting solutions for their languages: Guido at Google App Engine and Matz at Heroku.

Now we only need to know where _why is working.

I can't imagine he's actually going to hack on the product, right? Is something like this a prestige move?

My ex-employer (a tech consulting company) tried to on-board him & I am assuming that Matz certainly have received offers from many other tech companies too.. Kudos to heroku for making offer that excited Matz.., it is an interesting move by Heroku..

Congrats James. Leave some Ruby luminaries for other companies :)

Matz was rather excited to get the Heroku t-shirts last week. This is a few days before the RubyKaigi so the timing is indicative. I think Heroku wants some expansion in the Japanese Ruby market. (which is sadly still under-developed)

Heroku is nice so we are nice?

This has to be the most badass new hire announcement I've ever seen.

That must have been a tough interview...

"So, can you estimate the number of gas stations in Los Angeles?"

Great move! Congrats to Heroku.

congrats to Jamie and team!

interestingly, the official press release mentions that matz will retain his positions at NaCL and Rakuten Institute of Technology.


So Heroku now owns Ruby.

Not that I think this will lead anywhere particularly bad.

It really doesn't. It can't change Ruby in a major way, can't charge for it, can't close-source it, etc. even if it's paying the creator.

> So Heroku now owns Ruby.

Nah, I don't think so. Ruby is a community effort. Should Matz ever turn into an asshole (which just seems hiiiighly unlikely), someone else would fork the project.

Yikes, bye bye karma.

I'm wondering if there's not a single person out on HN that sees this the way I do? It's not a bad thing that Matz is joining Heroku, but it does give them a very different stature in the Ruby community than they had pre-Matz. Nothing inherently evil or snarky about that.

I'm a Heroku user who hopes that this produces an even better experience on the platform. But I find it hard to see this as just another hire. Google's got a huge leg up in Go since they've got the two Robs and Ken, Joyent has Node + Ryan Dahl.

They don't own the language, but they do "own" it.

Did Google start owning Python when Guido went to work there? Replace Google by Transmeta and Guido by Linus and you have another earlier example. This kind of thing happens all the time. You can generally count on long-time system designers and implementors to have enough integrity and pride in their creation that they won't succumb to corporate agendas even from their own employers. It's not like they're so desperate they have to suck corporate cock to hang onto a job.

It is yet to see another cloud based solution for python. Of course, having Guido there is not the _real_ reason why this would happen.

Matz created...and to what I understand still develops MRI (Matz Ruby Interpreter). Rubinius and jRuby are coming on strong from the Engine Yard team.

He probably has more influence on the language then the guys in charge of Rubinius and JRuby(across implementations).

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