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Gitlab from YC to IPO

559 points15 hoursblog.ycombinator.com
jedberg12 hours ago

I'll admit that I was wrong about GitLab. I had the chance to invest in them way back in the day, and passed. My thought at the time was that no open source company had ever been super successful except RedHat, which was more of an outlier than a pattern. And my other thought was that they are competing against GitHub, which was extremely popular and well funded.

I honestly didn't think they stood a chance.

I'm happy to have been proven wrong. Congrats to the whole team on their successful exit!

klysm9 hours ago

I think if GitHub simply gave free private repos sooner, GitLab would’ve had a way harder time.

paxys7 hours ago

Disagree. Github's self-hosted product is trash compared to Gitlab. Plus they were very late to the game when it came to stuff like CI, package management, project tracking and a whole suite of enterprise features. Github had (and still has) a huge lead in public open-source development, but that's it.

rhacker4 hours ago

While yes, my first usage of Gitlab was an on-prem install, things really took off with Gitlab.com in ways I don't think anyone expected with healthy competition from Bitbucket and Github. I do think it was the unlimited free private repos with unlimited contributors that really skyrocketed the success of the Gitlab.com path.

polote8 hours ago

Github is initially B2B SMB and B2C and Gitlab is B2B Enterprise. 10% of Github employee are sales , 25% for Gitlab. I would say they are not even competitors

jbergens8 hours ago

Gitlab was earlier/better at letting companies install a version on-prem.

mcronce8 hours ago

Their CI story was also a lot better until Github added Actions

+1
Aeolun4 hours ago
killerstorm10 hours ago

> My thought at the time was that no open source company had ever been super successful except RedHat

Sun bought MySQL for 1 billion USD in 2008, does that not count as successful?

Also, MongoDB, Elastic and many many others...

ZetaZero9 hours ago

MongoDB and Elastic are successful because they are locking features behind a paid license. Does that make it a successful open source company?

codetrotter9 hours ago

GitLab has features in the Enterprise edition that aren’t in the Community edition don’t they?

djbusby7 hours ago

Correct.

strzibny9 hours ago

But GitLab is the same concept...

jedberg10 hours ago

I meant there were no successful public companies based on open source except RedHat in 2015.

pankajdoharey12 hours ago

I am always reminded how not so great ideas or even clones when executed well lead to good outcomes.

polote9 hours ago

If every investor was apologizing when a company he passed on became successful they would not have any time to do investing anymore.

For any criteria (open source or github as a competitor in that case) you will find some company that became successful. Even the worst one.

specialist11 hours ago

Any takeaway lessons for evaluating future FOSS startups? Like maybe place higher weight on rate of adding new users?

jedberg11 hours ago

I've found that my bar for investing is the same no matter what kind of company it is -- how quickly can they sell me on investing? As much as us engineers hate to admit it, the most important skill for a founder is the ability to sell. Besides the obvious of having to sell to customers, they also have to sell their vision to VCs, sell their company to potential employees, sell their vision to journalists and potential customers, etc.

If I'm not convinced to invest after one meeting, I usually don't invest. On the other hand, if I'm convinced after five minutes, I'm usually asking where to send the wire by the end of the meeting.

Armory is a good example of an open source/open core company I did invest in. They had me convinced in just a few minutes. They had an answer for every one of my objections and made me feel like I'd be missing out if I didn't invest. And so far they're doing really well and it's one of my best investments to date.

ignoramous9 hours ago

> ...how quickly can they sell me on investing? As much as us engineers hate to admit it, the most important skill for a founder is the ability to sell. Besides the obvious of having to sell to customers, they also have to sell their vision to VCs, sell their company to potential employees, sell their vision to journalists and potential customers, etc.

As cynical and hollow as it sounds, pretty sure this advice is consistent with what I have heard in multiple videos and blogs from YC.

See also: "create investor fomo", https://html.duckduckgo.com/html/search?q=create%20fomo%20in...

mgfist4 hours ago

I wouldn't say it's cynical. At the end of the day companies don't live unless they can make money. So that, by necessity, is step 1.

drodio2 hours ago

Honored to have you as an investor, jedberg!

And I’d modify one thing you said: I believe the #1 most important skill for a startup CEO to master is storytelling —- which is critical for selling, fundraising and recruiting. https://www.founderculture.net/c/new-noteworthy/the-1-must-m...

moneywoes10 hours ago

What do you find is the “best way to sell”?

jedberg9 hours ago

Have an answer to every objection. First figure out all the ways you would object and make sure you have an answer, then note down any objections you don't have an answer to during your process and make sure you have a good answer next time.

And if you're selling a product, make sure you know your competitors well because a lot of objections will be in the form of "but competitor X does this, how do you solve that problem?" and "what do you do that X doesn't do?". So you better know X really well because the person you're talking to already does and will know if you're making stuff up.

MarkMc5 hours ago

Sounds to me like you were only wrong in hindsight. At the time it was a reasonable decision to pass on GitLab in the circumstances.

altdataseller12 hours ago

Is Gitlab 100% open source?

mr_tristan11 hours ago

It's really "open core", but they use one code base, so commercial-licensed code is "available" but not under an open source license.

https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/marketing/strategic-market...

NOTE: I'm not associated with GitLab at all I just found the topic interesting. I don't know of many other projects that actually do things this way, with all the commercial licensed code mixed in with the open source code.

This was kind of an interesting speech I found searching around: https://www.heavybit.com/library/video/commercial-open-sourc...

wizzwizz412 hours ago

It is not. They're better than most – and I know that's not a high bar, but they clear it by a wide margin. Nonetheless, their software is better described as "open core".

pestaa12 hours ago

RedHat is not 100% open source either (although the differences are important).

fredros10 hours ago

I’d say it’s 99% open source. Do you have any significant example of non open source red hat software ?

redeux4 hours ago

Their OpenShift aaS offerings I would hazard to guess.

pankajdoharey12 hours ago

Opensource isnt such a problem the software should be great, i fail to see how Gitlab is better than Github.

rnicholus11 hours ago

Gitlab always felt like a set of checkboxes to appease non-technical managers. In my experience, most features are half-baked. Even the code review/MR experience is frustrating compared to GitHub. The UX for security scans is _really_ rough.

rock_hard26 minutes ago

Fully agree!

We tried it for a year and didn’t like it

GitHub has less features but the UX around PRs is 10x better IMO

nitrogen11 hours ago

GitLab's integrated CI came before GitHub actions and was super helpful.

Aeolun4 hours ago

It feels like at first, Gitlab was trying to build a few great features, which is how we got CI, but then they started instead to focus on breadth, and that’s how we got everything else that’s now in the product.

chrisweekly10 hours ago

GitLab CI is world-class.

210Donegal10 hours ago

What about the UX for security scans is rough?

shaan711 hours ago

I work for two clients (one of them is a huge German company) as a consultant who are both using GitLab simply because they can host it on their infrastructure. Makes it easier for them to satisfy internal security policies I guess.

+1
GoblinSlayer8 hours ago
dragontamer12 hours ago

Github is a website while Gitlab is software.

bityard9 hours ago

Gitlab is both actually

+1
robinhood7 hours ago
Mikeb8511 hours ago

GitHub is Microsoft now.

Not going to lie, simply keeping my code away from MS is a good enough use case.

+2
robinhood7 hours ago
taytus9 hours ago

>which was more of an outlier than a pattern

If you are looking to invest in patterns what makes you special?

I thought the idea was to look for outliers.

jedberg8 hours ago

VCs are the most risk averse people you will meet. They pretty much only look for patterns. That's why it's so hard for minority/female founders -- because it doesn't fit their pattern. I actually invest mostly in minority/female founders for exactly this reason.

Also, I never said I was any good. :)

nodesocket11 hours ago

I’ll echo a sentiment I also had but perhaps I was wrong. I believed that users of GitLab used GitLab because they didn’t want to pay a premium (or pay at all) for GitHub; thus I viewed it as a cheaper alternative in the same vein as buying a Hyundai vs buying a Mercedes. I assumed only frugal “developers” were using it, and surely any legit companies would opt for the superior GitHub.

Lorin17 minutes ago

That'd be me, but I stuck around because issue management on GitLab is miles ahead of GitHub - however... if GitHub added scoped labeled I'd have a hard time convincing myself to stick around as the sheer number of users + discovery features blow GitLab out of the water.

maxsilver8 hours ago

Just one user here, but I definitely prefer GitLab over GitHub.

Not because GitHub is bad in any particular way, I just like the feature set and UI of GitLab better. Less of a "Hyundai vs Mercedes" thing, and more of a "Ford vs Chevy" thing.

They're both decent and they both have approximately the same level of "premium-ness". They're just feature-wise and aesthetically slightly different in arbitrary ways. And some people either do or don't vibe better with the one or the other.

mr_cyborg9 hours ago

Interesting comparison with cars, I would think a Hyundai is much more reliable and less expensive to maintain than a Mercedes, and Hyundai is now being positioned as a more premium brand than it once was.

On topic, GitLab is great at CI/CD and awesome for self-hosting things.

secondaryacct12 hours ago

Dont worry, as a corporate user, it's a nightmare: it wont last.

systemvoltage11 hours ago

It’s really bloated but it’s gonna live and get better over time. Gitlab feels super slow compared to GitHub but it also has more features.

I’m personally extremely pro Source Hut but it’s not ready yet: https://sr.ht

Aeolun4 hours ago

Sourcehut will always be niche by definition.

atonse13 hours ago

"Gitlab CEO here, getting rich and feeling proud" [1] ;-) – congrats to the Sid, Dmitriy, and the rest of the Gitlab team. Always appreciated your presence on HN.

We've been GitLab customers for 2-3 years now (what was attractive was having "everything in one SaaS subscription") and it's worked out quite well.

There's always papercuts for sure and the product could always use more polish, but overall it has been nice to have most of our dev processes under one umbrella.

Now when is Hashicorp going public? I've got my wallet ready for that one.

[1] https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...

nabakin11 hours ago

When I click on your link to find the quote, it doesn't show up. Strange. Or are you playing off of the joke?

atonse10 hours ago

That's strange.

Try looking for "gitlab CEO here" (with quotes) at the bottom search on HN? (and pick Comments. they won't show up in stories.)

jypepin13 hours ago

I used to work at Uber's Amsterdam office at a time where the remote nature of the office (from SF HQ) was a struggle for some teams because of strong dependencies on teams located at SF HQ.

Sid came to the office and talked to us about some strategies Gitlab used for remote work, timezone differences etc.

Not only the talk was very helpful, Sid was an incredibly clear communicator, calm and humble. He really seemed to be a great leader and someone it must be nice working with.

Copenjin12 hours ago

For those who want to know more about Gitlab and its all remote approach (a lot of posts): https://about.gitlab.com/blog/tags.html#remote-work

And their handbook: https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/

e4012 hours ago

We used this as a template the year before the pandemic to get our mostly remote teams working well. Once the pandemic hit, there were few issues we had to address.

I very much appreciate them making that public.

Copenjin12 hours ago

Yep, that wiki is amazing.

alohaandmahalo11 hours ago

Darren here from GitLab — warms my heart to hear that our remote guides are being used and making lives/companies better. Thank you!

debacle14 hours ago

A paid user + big fan of gitlab. They exist in a strange valley between github and Atlassian where usability has remained high while also being featureful.

Their kanban is 10% more functional than Trello, which is all our small team really needs, they give you everything and they don't nickel and dime you.

The only feature I would like to see improved is their PR process. Seems a bit buggy with remotely large changesets, and the digest for the PR should provide a bit more context to reviewees.

dhritzkiv14 hours ago

Yes! Gitlab's offerings are great, and our team doesn't even scratch the surface of what's possible with its feature set.

That said, MRs with over 1000 lines of changes are painful sometimes impossible to review. Even small MRs feel clunky, due to how many panels there are (yes, I know they're collapsible). Because MRs are one of our most used features, it sometimes makes me consider switching to GitHub for their much nicer PR UX/UI.

Gepsens14 hours ago

I prefer to use Intellij now for reviews. How can people review any kind of code in that PR web UI ? I mean I used to do it but not anymore

nyanpasu6412 hours ago

Do you review code in the code editor, the git diff, or some specialized full-PR/MR diff with integration with online comments and discussions?

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/40217494/how-to-review-a... says IntelliJ has GitHub-only specialized PR review/commenting.

marceloabsousa9 hours ago

Would be very curious about your thoughts on Reviewpad (https://reviewpad.com). The interactions you have on the IDE are very different than a tool that was specifically made for code reviews.

dhritzkiv10 hours ago

Yeah, I should really quit struggling with Gitlab's.

For really large MRs, I use Tower + Kaleidoscope to view the changes. But then I can't easily leave a comment on a line of code (a big part of the review process)

gregmfoster5 hours ago

Neither GitHub nor GitLab quite hit the mark for me with regards to code review. Phabricator (RIP) was close IMO, with first class support for (1) seeing comments and code on one view and (2) supporting stacks which prevent mega changes.

I've been working with some peers on a better code review tool since hearing about Phabricator shutting down: https://graphite.dev/

It syncs all data to GitHub while offering things like a review queue, gif reactions, stacked diffs, etc - all inspired from Phabricator.

Aeolun4 hours ago

Gif reactions in code review is something we want?

marceloabsousa9 hours ago

We've been building a new code review tool for the PR/MR process. Check it out at https://reviewpad.com.

xjia4 hours ago

We have also built a similar thing based on git-format-patch and the patch workflow: https://www.reviewpatch.org

gregmfoster5 hours ago

What is your thinking around post merge reviews?

disgruntledphd214 hours ago

The only issue I had with GL is that they don't show the entire diff if the changes/files are very large.

They may have fixed this since last year, but it was super, super annoying to me at the time.

necovek14 hours ago

Nope, they still arbitrarily decide to "fold" big changes (file with a large diff), causing me to miss entire files when reviewing on occasion.

In all honesty, their pull request pages need a lot of UX work: too much stuff going on on the overview pages, jumping to unresolved threads does not work when they are in previous commits...

There's also that merge train confusion where merge trains get "cancelled" without an obvious explanation ("this was cancelled because it is included in a new one" would do). In a sense, I'd say that their UX is pretty bad, but the API is not much better either (you can't fetch pipeline log files with individual script timings that you see floating on the right in the web UI). If anything, all of this only goes to show that you don't need to be perfect to be good!

But I applaud the effort, mission and dedication they put up, and especially their open core nature.

Congrats on the IPO and keep pushing forward.

debacle14 hours ago

You can "expand" the diff, but sometimes that breaks the UI, makes it unable to add comments, etc. That's probably the reason they don't show large changesets by default.

127001808012 hours ago

Their search functionality is also... non functioning. Github's search is dramatically more powerful.

mooreds14 hours ago

I haven't used gitlab much, but I was shocked to hear GitHub's CTO (at the time of the interview, he has moved on since) state that GitHub didn't consider them a competitor.

"I do think that people still, to this day, think of GitLab as one of our main competitors, and I never have ever saw GitLab as a competitor."

https://www.lastweekinaws.com/podcast/screaming-in-the-cloud...

Anyone have thoughts on that? Or pointers to more reading?

reayn14 hours ago

I think the CTO's reasoning comes from that while GitLab is competitive in terms of usage and features (actually offering a more complete CI experience imo), it's influence is still relatively miniscule in comparison to GitHub.

I wouldn't be surprised if you tried asking random people in public or in a university whether they know GitHub or GitLab and came to the conclusion that GitLab basically does not exist for many people.

Especially for newer programmers, the vast majority tutorials/educational courses and whatnot probably don't even mention any alternatives to GitHub, much less an explicit reference to GitLab.

I say we just give it time, GitLab as a company seems like a way more inviting environment to me and if they keep up the good work GitHub may have to start acknowledging them more.

pid-114 hours ago

GitHub has stronger 'social' features and it's better for people who want to connect to other devs or build portfolios.

GitLab is years ahead of GitHub for certain stuff (e.g. CI/CD) and IMO it has a better commercial offering for business.

I use GitHub as my portfolio profile for free and GitLab in my $JOB.

That's my opinion tho, I'm just a person who uses both.

vultour14 hours ago

GitHub's CI pipelines are behind GitLab? My lord, here I was thinking about moving to GitHub Enterprise when our subscription expires because everything in GitLab feels like an unfinished weekend project. Seems like nobody can get anywhere near the functionality of Jenkins.

pid-113 hours ago

I agree GitLab's CI has many edge cases. More importantly, it feels like they stopped making it better to focus on other stuff.

That said, GH actions is really new and full of imitations / weird stuff as well. I still think GL offers more bang for the buck in 2021.

Another option is using something external like Drone CI, Circle CI, etc... Some of those look nice, but I've never tested myself.

mooreds14 hours ago

> Seems like nobody can get anywhere near the functionality of Jenkins.

I've heard Jenkins is a nightmare to administer (not sure about the new versions). Seems like an opportunity: the power of Jenkins with modern sensibility.

+2
cyberpunk12 hours ago
kerblang7 hours ago

Just to contradict the complaining about groovy scripts: I reduced something like 100 jobs to 2 using groovy in jenkins, and it has been a godsend. I'm not having any problems with it.

Mind you, the Groovy stuff was implemented as an afterthought, and if you aren't handy with Groovy (I am) it can be challenging to learn. But compared to the horrible GUI-driven alternative, it was a no-brainer in the end.

Really, the more you're doing CI, the more you want scripts - doesn't have to be Groovy. I'd honestly be perfectly fine just doing things with a bash shell on a vanilla linux install. I only use Jenkins because my team insists on it, for what? So we can put a web UI in front of CI. I'd even tend to agree that with supply-chain attacks being what they are, and jenkins being a never-ending fountain of security patches, putting a web UI in front of CI isn't worth it.

But at least the groovy part makes life bearable.

specialist11 hours ago

Jenkins (and the like) are build script obfuscation frameworks.

cyberpunk12 hours ago

Seriously, they're miles behind. It doesn't even really support Kubernetes, you have to have long running 'runner' servers ala Jenkins and you need to have all your build tools installed on those. It's miserable, fragile and I've dearly, dearly missed gitlab CI the last few times I've had to go anywhere near actions.

easton11 hours ago

It’s probably because Actions is a fork of Azure Pipelines, which was originally designed to coordinate runners on Windows (where containers aren’t nearly as flexible or compatible as they are on Linux). Microsoft came up with some fancy internal magic to have hot pools of ephemeral VMs ready to assign in seconds, which nobody outside can really replicate (I don’t think), and then everyone sits in sadness while they try to debug why their tests run fine on “runner-1” but not on “runner-2”.

swozey8 hours ago

Github makes you do a ton of goofy side work to get simple things you'll expect in Gitlab/etc to work. Want to check out multiple repos? You'll need someone with org admin to create a service account and to manually pull each repo in a CI step with that service accounts token. This means tons of people are using their own PATs to get around "who is the github org admin?" sort of stuff.

I could go on and on, Github Actions are horrid compared to Gitlab. I wish, wish wish I could go back but I don't have that power here. Github doesn't have scoped issues like Gitlab, the issue board is so lacking, "projects" is stale and featureless so many things.

But I AM the one who deals with the aftermath. I've spent days fixing one simple github action and I have plenty I don't even wind up deploying they're so problematic.

rossmohax7 hours ago

No idea why you've been downvoted. Gitlab CI is lightyears ahead of Github Actions, it's a fact.

Aeolun4 hours ago

> feels like an unfinished weekend project

Jenkins has felt like an unfinished weekend project for going on ten years now. It may once have been state of the art, but that was in a time when people barely knew what a xmlhttprequest was.

skofgar14 hours ago

And here I am planning on replacing Jenkins with GitLab CI.. do you really think Jenkins is better? Do you have any examples or thoughts you can share?

orf10 hours ago

We did a talk on it, happy to answer any questions. It’s definitely worth it.

A lot of our Jenkins issues came down to “we are not very good at managing Jenkins”, but even if we where the massive jump in productivity, flexibility and team independence we saw after rolling it out makes me believe it’s just better.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=k83hTlb9pMc

cyberpunk12 hours ago

Your plan is solid (source: building ci stuff for >10 years). I wouldn't really suggest much else, although argo is getting pretty good if you're deploying to k8s, I'd still keep gitlab around for creating your images.

secondaryacct12 hours ago

And jenkins is centuries behind Teamcity.

My company extracted us from github+teamcity paradise to force fit us to gitlab, it's not going well. Try both and for real, build a real project pipeline and see if that works for your dev before moving to either.

rossmohax7 hours ago

I never worked with Teamcity, but created a fairly complicated Gitlab CI pipelines. What do you miss in Gitlab CI?

wmfiv13 hours ago

You're looking for TeamCity, https://www.jetbrains.com/teamcity/.

skeeter202013 hours ago

Remember that GitHub is not MS's enterprise product in this space. When they acquired GH everyone waited for "the merge" and I think they've been really smart to (at least) appear to be hands off. I can happily use GH for my stuff while cursing Azure DevOps for work without going crazy.

pjot14 hours ago

In an interview I had with GL the interviewer mentioned “people use GH for open source work, and GL for closed”.

la_fayette14 hours ago

Thats somehow funny, as GH is closed source and GL is open source...

+1
10000truths14 hours ago
whymarrh14 hours ago

Yeah they’re similar feature-wise but the communities that exists on GitHub vs. GitLab aren’t remotely comparable.

4120914 hours ago

In the same way the Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series X aren't competitors.

Many hard core gamers will have both. My Switch is for Smash Bros and the Advance Wars reboot. Advance Wars was one of my favorite games as a kid, and I'll pay 300$ for a machine just to play it.

The Series X also plays games, but it's a completely different experience. No one expects Switch quirkiness on an Xbox, and no one expects 4K gaming on a Switch.

GitHub is for your public portfolio. Gitlab is for getting stuff done once your GitHub portfolio lands you a decent job.

GitHub is synonymous with programmer portfolio, but it's CI/CD system is rather primitive.

halfmatthalfcat14 hours ago

Actions are close If not better than Gitlab’s CI. I moved from Gitlab to GitHub Actions because they offer OSX runners too, game changer.

iechoz6H14 hours ago

gitlab-runners are also installable on OSX (MacOS)[1]

1. https://docs.gitlab.com/runner/install/osx.html

halfmatthalfcat13 hours ago

Yes, if you have OSX boxes available or leverage things like MacStadium but Github allows you to leverage their MacMini farm.

4120914 hours ago

Are you using enterprise Gitlab?

I don't think Gitlab is a serious player outside of enterprise clients. But that's where the money is.

+1
skeeter202013 hours ago
bastardoperator13 hours ago

I don't think it's a serious player at enterprises either. MSFT is giving away GitHub Enterprise to sell Azure and Visual Studio licenses coupled with other perks. GitLab can't compete on that level and they lose to GitHub/MSFT on a fairly regular basis.

jjeaff10 hours ago

Seems pretty serious to me. I was running my entire CI/CD process with gitlab.com and deploying to k8s clusters before GitHub Actions were even launched.

mullingitover12 hours ago

Github should see them as competitors, because Gitlab has definitely taken business from them.

Back in 2014 I started at a company that was still using a hand-rolled git server. They tried out Github enterprise but were unsatisfied with GH's lack of LDAP integration, so they were going to continue to frankenstein their in-house git server. I pitched them Gitlab instead, which did pretty much everything GH enterprise was doing, plus LDAP integration, plus was a fraction of the price. They were sold, I migrated the company to Gitlab, and continued to be impressed as Gitlab ran laps around Github on features.

erik_landerholm13 hours ago

While anecdotal, we see a lot of development environments for a lot of companies and the amount using github vs gitlab is like 5 or 6x to 1. So, in that sense I get what the CTO of github is saying.

ksec9 hours ago

I am probably wrong in this.

I do think they are in a different market though. In that despite there is a Github Enterprise Product, the self host market shares are going to GitLab for one reason or another. i.e I would not be surprised if GitLab is actually winning in Enterprise / Big Spending Client self hosting Market.

For Github, it seems most of its strength is in their SaaS, contractors and SME which trends towards this solution. Your personal contribution to Open Source as well as profile / portfolio would also live on Github like on a Social Network.

And I can see both Github and Gitlab continue to evolve their strength for at least another 5 years. Generally speaking I dont see how Gitlab could ever compete with Github on SaaS given the advantage M$ has with Azure and DataCenter infrastructure as well as social reach. While Github wont have an easy path to evolve into something that compete directly with GibLab on self hosting solution and their trend is to move towards Azure Cloud solution offering to further gain synergy with other Microsoft Enterprise products.

I do wish Gitlab put lots and lots of work into performance though. As in performance improvement measured in order of magnitude, not small percentages.

paxys7 hours ago

They are similar products but target different market segments. Github wants public open-source projects, Gitlab wants large enterprises.

reducesuffering12 hours ago

As Peter Thiel repeatedly puts in Zero to One:

Monopolists love to talk about have they have competitors and act like they’re in competition.

Competitors love to downplay that they have any competitors at all and try to upsell their business like they’re monopolists.

sdflhasjd13 hours ago

I really like Gitlab, and I wanted to move my team onto their hosted offering, but earlier this year they changed the pricing so abruptly and drastically that it just killed it as an option.

It just feels like it does too much, and unless you want to commit to having everyone using it for _everything_ the pricing doesn't seem to make sense.

gorkish10 hours ago

The pricing model with GitLab is really unfortunate for certain types of companies. For our developers who really do most everything in Gitlab, it's great, but buying the same licenses for literally anyone else who might need to peek in there a couple of times a month? Hell naw.

Our spend would be much higher (probably 3-4x) if they allowed some type of reasonable mix of license levels.

rossmohax7 hours ago

Thats is what sales team is for. Talk to them, explain you usecase and set of features you are looking to use, they'll give you a discount based on that. If I remember correctly we managed to get a license for all users who ever need to login, but for the price of number of core active users.

xtracto13 hours ago

Same thing happened to me at a previous company: I had just migrated from Github to Gitlab and was planning on getting on the paid plan, when they suddenly did the price bump. Worse of all is that it is not possible to pay monthly (Github allows this). So we got back to Github.

tombert9 hours ago

I remember in 2014, a coworker of mine talked me into creating a Gitlab account, claiming "it's basically just Github, but you get free private repos".

I liked it, used it occasionally, but didn't care much about it until Github was purchased by Microsoft. I didn't have a problem with Microsoft buying Github per say, but it made me realize that Github could be bought, and it wasn't some kind of glorified charity. I don't think MS has done a bad job with Github at all, but the very fact that the biggest home of open source itself isn't open source made me uneasy. On the day the MS buyout was announced, I moved all my Github repos to Gitlab.

Gitlab, while still a for-profit company, at least believed in open source enough to release the source code for their core product into the wild, and have proven that they can be successful doing it. I'm extremely happy that they've managed to create a pretty outstanding project that I am happy to use, and I just bought three shares to prove my dedication to it.

wyldfire14 hours ago

I recently wanted to try adding some diagrams to a markdown-formatted README file in a Github Enterprise repo. I saw a few solutions but they all seemed to require me to roll some kind of service or automation to generate a raster image of the diagram and reference that from the markdown. There's an outstanding feature request for Github to integrate this kind of thing in their markdown rendering. But it's been languishing for years. Of course, Gitlab has had it for a while.

If Github's not careful, Gitlab will eat their lunch.

Gitlab should be careful not to make their product into "The Homer" [1], though.

[1] https://simpsons.fandom.com/wiki/The_Homer

vultour14 hours ago

GitLab has already turned into "The Homer". It has hundreds (thousands?) of features, but if you stray away from the core git functionality you'll very quickly realise they're pretty bad.

I've always seen GitLab as a useful tool for smaller companies where you can use it to replace several other applications (e.g. JIRA, Jenkins, or wiki), but if your company already has those established it all becomes somewhat useless.

exhaze13 hours ago

Have you read the GitLab S-1? They have great retention with larger companies. Can you substantiate any of your claims? (FYI I have no horse in this race, I evaluated GH vs GL recently and decided to stay on GH for now)

adduc8 hours ago

From their S-1:

> We do not have an adequate history with our subscription or pricing models to accurately predict the long-term rate of customer subscription renewals or adoption, or the impact these renewals and adoption will have on our revenues or operating results.

For context, GitLab recently axed their lowest priced plan and grandfathered in existing users at cheaper rates for the next year. Their retention rate may drop once discounts run out and the new pricing kicks in.

As to the parent's comment about "The Homer" and non-core features being bad, I'd point to their CI autoscaling solution as an example of being underdeveloped, over-marketed, and suffering from technical debt. Their autoscaler uses docker machine behind-the-scenes, which hooks into various cloud providers to abstract away the act of spinning up new VMs. It works reasonably well, but Docker has archived the repository and no longer supports the software. GitLab forked the repository and maintains it for critical fixes, but is not willing to develop or accept new features. It has been known to break against new versions of Docker, does not handle concurrency very well in new environments, and does not allow [1] executing multiple concurrent jobs within spun up VMs, despite marketing that it can [2].

While the autoscaler does work, it's limitations and quirks reduces it's utility and cost-savings significantly within smaller organizations. The technical debt leaves me doubting any improvements will come within the next few years as they try to architect a new solution to replace the existing one.

I have no idea how GitLab compares in other areas, but within CI autoscaling it seems they're stuck with a cliff to climb down before they can move forward again.

[1]: https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-runner/-/issues/2787#no...

[2]: https://about.gitlab.com/blog/2017/11/23/autoscale-ci-runner...

Aeolun3 hours ago

To some extend, yes. On the other hand, they’re currently the only service where I can set up one VM, give it my AWS credentials, and have fully automated scaling.

The hoops you have to jump through in Github are absolutely unfun.

rossmohax7 hours ago

CI is moving in Kubernetes everywhere I know. Builtin kubernetes pod autoscaler can add capacity based on job queue length metric, so no need for docker machine anymore.

woodruffw14 hours ago

I agree with the general thrust of your comment (and I've been happy to see that GitHub's feature development pick up over the past few years), but I don't know if Markdown is the best example: I've lost track of how many times I or someone else I work with has written some Markdown, only to discover that it's a GH or GL extension and that our deployed documentation (or package index pages) don't render our hard work correctly.

the-dude14 hours ago

I think it is fair to say Gitlab is already eating Github's lunch. For some time.

nerdponx14 hours ago

Are they? What's the Gitlab market share?

Also, it sounds to me like Github is leaving the old lunch of "Git hosting + issue tracking" on the table, and moving on to being a kind of web-based all-in-one full-service collaboration/dev platform with a social network built in. So even if Gitlab picks up some single-digit-percentage market share, that's not what Github cares about anyway.

what_is_orcas13 hours ago

> a kind of web-based all-in-one full-service collaboration/dev platform with a social network built in.

Why would I want a social network built into my version control & ci/cd pipeline (I assume you're referring to the "stars" feature, and not about issue reporting).

Maybe I'm just a curmudgeon, but I'm sort of sick of everything becoming a social network. I neither have nor do I want internet clout, and all social networks feel like they're trying to force me into "keeping up with the Jones'" in whatever way they're relevant.

johannes123432112 hours ago

In OpenSource space there is a small value: If I get a contribution from a stranger and I see they are respected contributor to trustworthy other organisations I can derive some trust from that. (Doesn't mean handing out access and blindly merging, but helps to judge)

Also for people looking for jobs it can be a tool for self promotion.

nerdponx11 hours ago

Github has been a social network for years. You can follow users and "star" repositories.

It has its merits for search and discovery.

pjot14 hours ago

Especially considering the coupling of GitHub with vscode

brightball14 hours ago

Is it?

jandeboevrie15 hours ago

I worked with Sytse (as Sid used to be called) back in 2011/2012 in The Hague when he consulted at Digidentity, with Marin. Great guy back then, used to run around in a lab coat, the GitLAB guy. Wonderful to see what Gitlab has become, well done!

mcv13 hours ago

> Sytse (as Sid used to be called)

That explains a lot. I thought Sid was an unusual name for someone with that surname. But it makes business sense to use something more internationally pronounceable.

jandeboevrie11 hours ago

Fun fact on Dutch names, his wife Karen has the same Sijbrandij, but not due to marriage, but due to them being distant cousins, who found one another on the search function of an early chat client, like ICQ, he once told us. So she could actually call herself Karen Sijbrandij-Sijbrandij.

bee_rider11 hours ago

Gitlab is definitely very neat. But I always worry when these sorts of companies go to IPO. What is their financial situation like? Are they currently able to become profitable without drastically changing the deal with users?

megous6 hours ago

Well they're currently trying to test that hypothesis via A/B tests:

https://forum.gitlab.com/t/cant-open-the-signin-page-it-keep...

rossmohax7 hours ago

They had $192M losses in 2021 and $152M revenue. So no, not even remotely profitable, but it is common: Atlassian, Jira, Datadog, PagerDuty, Snowflake, CloudFlare, Fastly all IPOed and succeeded on the market without being profitable even once.

abledon5 hours ago

what? are you telling me CloudFlare is still not 'profitable' on their earnings today?

teh_klev14 hours ago

"He used to joke that his home office was the biggest GitLab Inc. office in the world because his EA would work there as well."

Maybe my brain is in a post-lunchtime stupor, but what or who is an "EA"?

villaaston114 hours ago

Executive assistant I think in this case, though I’ve seen enterprise architect too!

alphalima14 hours ago

Executive Assistant?

dabeeeenster14 hours ago

Executive Assistant

bytematic14 hours ago

Acronyms/Initialisms are great right?

teh_klev14 hours ago

Thank you everyone.

karolist11 hours ago

Electronic Arts

smartbit12 hours ago

Dmitriy Zaporozhets is explicit mentioned in the blog and on the photo. The S1 doesn't mention him https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28573867. Anyone know why Dmitriy owns less than 5% of the outstanding shares of the Class A or Class B common stock?

eganist12 hours ago

Dilution plus private stock sale or unequal share provisioning among founders? Probably a handful of things, though not sure if it has any bearing on Gitlab's success.

alangibson14 hours ago

Have any of the finance minded HN commenters decided if the $10B valuation is justified? I'm usually pretty negative about high valuations, but given their enterprise penetration, this one seems almost reasonable.

airstrike11 hours ago

Define "justified". For most purposes, the market looks at valuation on a relative basis¹.

Their S-1 says GitLab generated revenues of $152 million in FY 2021 (ending Jan 31), up 87% from the year before². For the sake of argument, let's assume their growth rate slows down "slightly" to 50%. That's ~$230 million projected for FY 2022

At $10 billion, that implies a forward revenue multiple of ~43.5x, which does seem high—but it's not necessarily "unjustified". I haven't read the S-1 and the market reaction to the IPO has been quite positive so far. You'd need to know the business and the market well to make your own individual assessment of why it commands this premium multiple. Customers, TAM, growth, churn, competition, etc.

––––––––––

1. For better or worse, relative valuation is viewed as "more defensible". If you're wrong, you can simply say, "well, that's how the market was pricing it at the time" whereas if you are wrong with your intrinsic valuation model (like a DCF), you have no one to blame.

2. https://www.bamsec.com/filing/162828021018818/1?cik=1653482&...

user59944619 hours ago

How much of that revenue growth was driven by Gitlab more than quadrupling their price in the last two years? ($4 to $19 a month).

They can't pull that trick again.

Aeolun3 hours ago

Who knows? $400/month/dev, here we come!

gitfan8613 hours ago

ORCL, MSFT, SalesForce and a few others would pay 10B+ to own those relationships and control of the future of the product

johannes123432112 hours ago

If they were paying more than an IPO value they probably would buy already ...

gitfan8612 hours ago

Gitlab doesn't want to sell

+1
johannes123432111 hours ago
lmeyerov10 hours ago

As with GitHub, the bigger value is owning shift left disruptions for enterprise and cloud sw+he services: security scanning, backups, prod server hosting, ... .

It is hard to compete with AWS, and a lot easier if you own the UI+APIs for how software teams do CI+CD: you become a default preferred vendor for all IaaS/PaaS add-ins, and can proactively recommend and even trial them well before any competitor. IBM, Oracle, SalesForce, SAP, Alibaba, etc could all win big -- imagine if IBM bought GitLab instead of RedHat to fix their data center strategy.

isthis12928313 hours ago

First 6 months of this year Gitlab took in $108M in revenue, and had $177M in expenses. Would you pay $10B to own a company that loses $10M/month, with the hopes they will continue to increase revenue in the future and become profitable?

byethewater26 minutes ago

There’s a Forbes article on the GitLab valuation which could be interesting to this thread: https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2021/10/12/gi...

mikeyouse13 hours ago

In the 6 months before their IPO - Square had net revenue of $200 million and expenses of $260 million, also losing $10M/month. Would you have paid $3 billion in 2015 to own that business?

If you had you would've had a 30x return today... (current market cap is ~$112 billion).

user59944619 hours ago

The large majority of the 30x return was over the past 2 years with the pandemic, which is not going to happen for Gitlab.

God forbids if you bought square long ago and didn't hold long enough, they had multiple years of ups and downs.

https://www.google.com/search?q=square+share

alangibson13 hours ago

Personally I'd buy an aircraft carrier if I had $10B. Nevertheless, there are plenty of people willing to put it in Gitlab or they wouldn't IPO. A better question might have been: what's the bull argument for Gitlab?

IggleSniggle11 hours ago

The usage argument is: buy your own "self-hosted" cloud offering, deployed over any combination of AWS/Azure/GCP/onprem that you like.

The bull argument probably looks something like: replace Microsoft Office 365 / Azure with an integrated "self-hosted" solution, easily deployed to any commoditized compute...handled by GitLab for paying customers, assurances of "escape hatch" to DIY open-source when you stop paying.

czbond14 hours ago

Came to look for the same. I haven't found current or future projections on revenue to hang something on.

buryat13 hours ago
nabla912 hours ago

Microsoft paid $7.5 billion for GitHub in 2018.

GitLab being ~$10B 4 year later seems like similar ballbark. There is always the possibility of acquisition in the future.

(EDIT: had names reversed)

NineStarPoint10 hours ago

Microsoft only paying 7.5 billion for GitHub definitely makes me less confident that GitLab is worth 10 billion.

Much as I personally prefer GitLab, GitHub had a bigger customer base back then than GitLab has now. GitLab may be gaining market share, but it’s mostly eating Atlassian’s portion of the market and not GitHub’s. It’s plausible GitHub undervalued themself in the sale to Microsoft of course, so a careful look at the numbers is required to evaluate the valuation, but the value comparison isn’t a great sign to me.

Separately of course, GitLab might be in line with the valuation of companies on the stock market in general which have ballooned heavily in recent years. Whether that's a bubble or permanent inflation in stock prices then becomes the relevant question to answer, I suppose.

filmgirlcw4 hours ago

GitHub wouldn’t sell for only $7.5b today though, it would probably be in the $25b or higher place. The explosion in valuations, especially in enterprise SaaS stuff over the last few years has been remarkable. I don’t know if that is sustainable or not, but in three years, the metrics have changed significantly.

nemothekid10 hours ago

>Microsoft only paying 7.5 billion for GitHub definitely makes me less confident that GitLab is worth 10 billion.

It's worth considering that between 2018 and now, tech valuations have exploded. MSFT is up 300%. QQQ is up 100%. I doubt GitHub is valued anywhere near 7.5B today.

dewey12 hours ago

> Microsoft paid $7.5 billion for GitLab in 2018.

That's a bit of an alternate timeline.

thefreeman11 hours ago

how many users did github have at the time vs gitlab now?

dgudkov8 hours ago

Dmitriy Zaporozhets (co-founder) was Gitlab's CTO until 2018 and now his LinkedIn profile says "Engineering fellow at Gitlab". What happened to him?

izolate5 hours ago

The CTO position isn't for everybody. A few years ago, I used to work at another tech unicorn from Amsterdam, at a time it was rapidly expanding.

The CTO at this company was the first engineer. He was talented, and more passionate about engineering than management. He eventually stepped down to a similar role as they brought in a suit from the corporate world to replace him. That was around the time that I left.

Funnily enough, I always thought he was the most grounded person on the leadership team.

mindwok7 hours ago

I've used Gitlab constantly for many years, and they stand out to me as a company that delivers new features at an astounding pace and with a relatively high level of polish. I really don't know how they do it. Congrats to the Gitlab team, your success is well deserved!

elpakal13 hours ago

Congrats to the team and I'm very thankful that there are alternatives to GitHub out there. Not that I don't like GitHub (I do) or use GitHub (every day), but lately it seems like they are sherlocking a whole lot of ideas from the OSS "marketplace" into their main product. That kind of irks me.

If GitLab were able to add something like GitHub Actions into their platform I would leave GH in a second.

ericpauley13 hours ago

GitLab has a very mature CI/CD framework that in many ways outshines Actions[1]. I use it regularly and definitely recommend it.

[1] https://about.gitlab.com/devops-tools/github-vs-gitlab/ci-mi...

snypox13 hours ago

Isn’t GitLabs whole premise is the CI/CD?

dadrian13 hours ago

GitLab CI is basically GitHub Actions, except easier to use.

elpakal12 hours ago

yea I'm not talking about CI, mostly _all the other things_ Actions can do right now like label events, comment events, all the events etc.

gadders12 hours ago

For anyone else that needs it:

The phenomenon of Apple releasing a feature that supplants or obviates third-party software is so well known that being Sherlocked has become an accepted term used within the Mac and iOS developer community.

airstrike11 hours ago

Surprised they didn't go for the "GIT" ticker

scottydelta11 hours ago

Gitlab is the only easy, reliable, and free docker registry provider and I have been using them since more than a year. Happy to see them succeed.

dQw4w9WgXcQ14 hours ago

Another big win for Joe Montana, but this time via Liquid 2 Ventures.

maxpert6 hours ago

Congratulations to the team. It’s rewarding to make it through, but don’t make the product shittier just because you are big now.

bdcravens10 hours ago

What has really bothered me about Gitlab is that everytime Github copies a feature, there's a testy blog post about "we did it first!" when Gitlab as a business is a copy of Github.

gbear6059 hours ago

And Github is a copy of Sourceforge, which is inevitably a copy of someone else.

Source code hosting as a business isn’t new, it just needs to be executed well.

bdcravens3 hours ago

Sure, though some of the ergonomics around git hosting are different from what was available on Sourceforge, especially looking at features like pull requests, which Gitlab cloned pretty much 1:1

coolhand17 hours ago

It's pretty incredible what Gitlab has been able to accomplish considering the market space they're in.

lnxg33k111 hours ago

I guess after GitHub and gitlab i will have to find an alternative, so long and thanks for all the fish, I'm not really sure why we need to pursue growth at all cost, a perpetual hunt for currency on daily basis, of a number we will never be able to spend

HatchedLake72111 hours ago

Why?

FabioFleitas13 hours ago

Gitlab's IPO would also mark the first ever 100% distributed company to IPO. Wild!

pixelmonkey13 hours ago

Elastic (NYSE: ESTC) was pretty much a fully distributed team upon IPO. They had offices, but they were more like "coworking cafes", where folks who happened to be in the same geographic area would meet up, or have social celebrations. At least, that's my understanding, tracking the company since its early days. On a recent podcast, Shay Banon described it as a fully distributed team of 2,000+ folks.[1] They IPO'ed in 2018.[2]

[1]: https://pca.st/kvgw4iz9

[2]: https://twitter.com/kimchy/status/1048595935088009216

heytherewhat6 hours ago

> They had offices

And Gitlab doesn't.

prabhatjha13 hours ago

What a success story for yet another open source project

xtracto13 hours ago

Well, kind of... Gitlab is another of those Freemium "open source" services where you have to pay to have the full functionality.

system210 hours ago

That's fair to me.

prabhatjha10 hours ago

Exactly.

m0zg6 hours ago

Kudos to GitLab for boldly and successfully going where (almost) no company has gone before - to having a worldwide, distributed workforce. Truly the way of the future, and (IMO) better quality of life for employees once they get used to working remote and stop fighting it. I've been working primarily remote for the past 3 years, and my QOL has never been better. No commute, working hours can be when I feel productive (which tends to be in the evening), and if I'm tired nobody will look at me funny if I take a nap, except maybe my cat.

Most importantly, this forces folks into asynchronous and written communication, which both makes my work less interrupt driven, and reduces reliance on institutional knowledge. I think we're yet to fully realize the benefits of this brave new world. And yes, I'm aware that some folks need water cooler conversations. I don't though.

Sid, if you're reading this, do please write a book on how you did it, so others could replicate your success in terms of geographic distribution. Knowing the legal / accounting / tax pitfalls, and how to avoid getting screwed when hiring abroad would be pretty invaluable to others.

0xbadcafebee8 hours ago

Ever since I found their company handbook online, I have been in love with their process/culture and wanted to work for them. But I don't write Ruby and they don't seem to need a lot of DevOps/SysEng/SREs.

literallyWTF14 hours ago

Oh geez. This most likely means the frequency of their updates will get even faster and their somewhat dubious quality will plummet.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be wrong and their auto devops pipelines might actually get rid of kubernetes namespaces for branches that don’t exist! :0

marsven_42212 hours ago

They need a lower price point for premium, all I want is enforced reviews of merge request. But $191215 is to much for that feature.