GitLab in GitHub’s shadow

In 2017, when GitLab announced a $20 million funding round, the news went as if GitHub (its larger competitor) was planning to start its annual developer conference.

It was just one example of the smaller growth trying to get attention from its more ranked and organized opponent. One year earlier, in 2016, GitLab proposed $20 million in a round that August Capital was leading.

In the market, GitLab grew up and developed in the shadows of GitHub. Open-source software Git built both companies, which Linux creator Linus Torvalds started for software developers to work together and share code from different locations.

Git founded GitHub in 2008. Four years later, it proposed $100 million from Andreessen Horowitz.


At the beginning of 2015, at YC Demo Day, CEO Sid Sijbrandij namechecked GitHub several times in his presentation. It happened after GitLab covered its three-month work in the Combinator accelerator program. Sid Sijbrandij said while promoting his company that their competitor GitHub had 270 employees while GitLab had 800 contributors. He added that it was the reason why GitHub was trying to catch up to their feature set.

At that time, GitHub did not have enough reasons to sweat as it was not only backed by Andreessen but by Sequoia as well.

However, an engineer Julie Ann Horvath exposed GitHub’s cultural deficiencies. In 2014, she tweeted about sexism and criticized the upper ranks. After some similar criticism cases, the company continued expanding. GitLab found an opportunity to apply its distinctive culture to its advantage. GitLab was a fully remote company without having any headquarters and real estate. All employees worldwide had equal access to information. GitLab has an extensive online handbook of over 2,500 web pages describing how the company functions regarding engineering, finance, and other matters. In June 2018, Microsoft announced that it was buying GitHub. At that time, GitHub was considered richly priced.

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