Four years into its journey as a company, GitHub remained something of an independent. The startup, which helps companies and developers build software, rebuffed the repeated advances of venture capitalists. Then, last July, GitHub flipped the bit and took $100 million from Andreessen Horowitz, gorging at the venture-capital trough like some kind of hideously large and famished money hog. (Yes, these things exist.)
Asked why GitHub would need so much money, Chief Executive Tom Preston-Werner replies with an answer that fits his laid-back persona: “To make more awesome.” It’s an unsatisfying response, but you can reasonably (sort of?) say such things when you’re the Grand Poobah of the software universe.
GitHub got its start as a type of productivity/collaboration service for open-source software developers. Someone would decide to create a new application and opt to put his code up on the GitHub website. Other people could then see the code and contribute to the project, and GitHub’s tools would document the changes, let the developers chat with each other, and make it easier for people to combine their various bits and pieces into a working whole. Similar things had existed for years; they just weren’t that good.