In case you weren’t sure that Silicon Valley had moved beyond from consumer web companies, take a look at the top five finalists for the best overall startup of 2012. Only one is even a purely consumer service — and Instagram’s photo-sharing app is mobile-oriented at that. Fab and Square respectively provide a marketplace for well-designed goods, and a real-world payment system for small businesses.
Our second-place startup of the year is Palantir, a company that started in 2004, that analyzes massive data sets for the government and large organizations.
And take a look at our winner, Github.
The company provides an version-controlled code repository for more than 3 million developers worldwide based on the “git” system established by Linus Torvald. A key advantage over existing versioning systems like CVS and Subversion is that sharing happens online, around unified code bases, rather than patches that get emailed around between community members and code administrators.
Any developer can quickly take existing open-source code and “fork” it over for their own uses. If they improve the code, Github lets them submit it back for the community. Social features encourage collaboration by letting users follow each other and see their work over time. The site doesn’t just make coding vastly more efficient, it lets individuals rise from obscurity to fame, and discover new jobs and new technical challenges to pursue. (Check out our Github overview piece for more.)
Now the company is going after the enterprise. It raised its first round of funding last year — a huge $100 million round from top VC firm Andreessen Horowitz at a reported $750 million valuation — to build services for companies looking to use and share back to its increasingly vast repositories. It has already helped enable a new era of web and mobile development, now it wants to bring the same productivity gains to businesses large, medium and small.
We’re delighted that such a centrally important company has taken home the biggest award this year, and we’re excited to see what it does from here on out.