Code management startup GitLab has an image problem, according to CEO and co-founder Sytse ‘”Sid” Sijbrandij.
When small, individual teams of programmers go to set up their own software projects, Sijbrandij says, they turn to GitLab more than any of its competitors to help them collaborate, merge new features into the existing code, and coordinate on fixing bugs.
That popularity with small teams has led GitLab to ever-so-quietly infiltrate the ranks of the Fortune 500, including teams of developers at companies like AT&T, Expedia, and IBM.
But when the time goes for executives at those large enterprises to buy a code management solution for every developer in the business, they skip over GitLab and go to flashier options like the $2 billion startup GitHub or Atlassian BitBucket.
“We’re not always top-of-mind when there’s a top-down decision at a company,” says Sijbrandij.
That’s why GitLab just raised a $20 million investment led by August Capital, with previous investors Khosla Ventures and Y Combinator also returning to throw more cash into the ring.
Growing like crazy
In March of 2015, GitLab had 9 employees. As of last October, it was around 30. Now, Sijbrandij says, GitLab has over 100 employees, many of whom work remotely from all over the globe.
Revenue and downloads of the product are both way up, too, he says.
The thing that sets GitLab apart, says Sijbrandij, is its supreme focus on helping developers be productive and get stuff out the door faster – something that’s absolutely vital as every company everywhere races to build apps and software.
For instance, GitLab users can open up an integrated development environment, or IDE – basically, a fancy text editor for writing code – straight in their web browser, just by clicking on one of their files. It sounds basic, but it means that a programmer can get work done from anywhere, even if they don’t have their laptop handy.
“We want to make it easier to go from ideas to production,” Sijbrandij says.
Furthermore, GitLab was “born in the enterprise,” Sijbrandij says, building out features like audit trail reporting and conflict resolution that help larger teams build software together, even under the sometimes-strenuous regulations of, say, the financial industry.
All told, Sijbrandij says GitLab’s features and ability to help developers work together are “unrivaled by the competition.” And when they need to get stuff done, GitLab is a developer’s “best bet.”
Still, though, GitLab has played it pretty quiet: GitHub combines the code management aspect with a Facebook-like social network aspect, making it far more visible. And Atlassian is a $6 billion publicly-traded company that’s been in the business software market since 2002.
So with this new capital, GitLab is going to work on building out the product, sure. But a big part of the next phase for GitLab is going to be around marketing and getting out in front of big business. Ultimately, he’s not worried: Sijbrandij says that as a product, GitLab is “unrivaled by the competition.”