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None of my non-programmer/startup friends know who or what a github is so I think that given the WSJ's audience, it's a fair statement.

Yes, "well-known" is context dependent. But I would argue the WSJ chose a poor context. The reader already knows whether or not he/she has heard of Github, so the real question is "are they well-known in their industry?"

Pick any non-consumer-facing industry where the average person doesn't know the players, and everybody is "little known". That doesn't really tell you anything about their actual businesses or reputations.

I agree with you, the wording from the WSJ sounds like they want the investment size to seem ridiculous. How about "quickly growing and profitable software company github..."

No it's not.

Something like "Social coding startup GitHub, hugely popular in the coding world, ...." would be a whole lot clearer.

Little-known, though technically correct, implies that they are not well known in any circle.

I'd go even further, and say that GitHub is incredibly well-known within their target market (developers). Everyone else doesn't matter, as the business will not be built around the general public.

WSJ is supposed to provide good reporting with strong bias towards informing potential investors (as a financial/business news paper). The wording choice doesn't make a strong case for value associated with the company and sounds like some no-name co. just got a pile of money that they are like to lose. (An exaggeration on my part for illustration purposes only.)

...and those that have tend to pronounce it gith•ub, which always cracks me up.

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