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Don't get me wrong, I love GitHub and I love the processes they are using - I wish we did more of it at my current employer. But all of this back-patting feels a bit premature. They've really only scaled a single order of magnitude. Growing from 4 developers to 40 developers is excellent, but hardly "scaling" at all. Would the same flow work at Amazon, Netflix, or Apple?



I'd argue that how you go from 4 to 40 developers is much more important than how you go from 100 to 200 developers. What's more, I find this area fascinating to discuss since many users in our Hacker News community tends to be in the 1-10 developer area. How you can grow past that initial team is really important.

I do actually mention at the end of the post that this likely doesn't scale up to hundreds and employees. But we'll see how it does work over time. So far so good. :)


> I do actually mention at the end of the post that this likely doesn't scale up to hundreds and employees. But we'll see how it does work over time. So far so good. :)

Well from what I know Valve operates on pretty much the same principles (employee-driven, very flat hierarchy, high inter-team mobility and teams as interest groups more than boxes to put people in), so if you can keep the culture in and manage to only hire good cultural fits it scales at least to 260 (approximative valve headcount when Portal 2 was released)


Ya I agree; 4 to 40 is more interesting than 100 to 200.

I was the fifth employee at my current employer, been through two acquisitions, now sitting at 220+ (not all developers). Scaling has been a difficult but rewarding and fun problem to tackle.

And damn, somehow I missed the last paragraph where you covered your ass ;) Thanks for pointing that out.


Is scaling an order of magnitude really such a non-achievement? I mean, have you done that? Most of us would be delighted with that kind of growth. Besides, if they’re smart enough to get all this right so far, they’re probably smart enough to modify their policies when they stop working so well—sorry, if they stop working so well.


the last paragraph of the article is an adequate response to this:

"Is this workflow going to work for us when we’re 500 employees? Likely not. But core values and ideas last. Figure out what your core values are, and adapt and refine them as you grow."




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