GitHub Hits The 4M User Mark As It Looks Beyond Developers For Its Next Stage Of Growth

GitHub has made its name as an online repository for developers to post, borrow and collaborate on code together — with active users now numbering 4 million — but in the future it wants to take that model to new frontiers as a center for all kinds of online collaboration.

“We want lawyers, people in the government, everyone to use GitHub,” its co-founder and CEO Tom Preston-Werner said today. Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, he said the aim was to “extend the use cases for GitHub…I want people to use this for every reason.”

Bootstrapped from its founding in 2007, the company earlier this year made a splash with a $100 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz.

The company is using that to shift gears and double down on enterprise, paid services. Preston-Warner today said that GitHub Enterprise, which differs from the main service in that it exists as an on-premise solution, now has “several hundred thousand” paying users.

The company was already profitable starting in 2012, but he said that today it is “not profitable at this current moment,” as it used the $100 million “to grow.” GitHub now has 209 employees.

The growth of the company has been pretty rapid of late. In 2011, it passed its 1 million milestone, and in January of this year it hit 3 million users. Getting to 4 million users in August more or less follows the projected trajectory laid out by Donnie Berkholz of RedMonk, who projects that it will hit 5 million within a year.

Expanding its service beyond its core developer origins is an interesting move for GitHub. It will put the company further into the crosshairs of other fast-growing startups that are also looking to do more in this area, such as Box and Dropbox, but also much bigger players like Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Cisco and more.

Coming from the basis of collaboration around code, Preston-Werner says that the focus of collaboration will likely be project-based, allowing people to communicate with each other alongside projects.

“If people are still using email to share documents, that is a huge problem,” he said. GitHub sees an opportunity here, offering a way to let people communicate with each other alongside accessing those documents, “putting communication next to the files,” as he put it today. He declined to say who he saw as competition, ducking the question with “our biggest competitor is current behavior.” (Boo.)

It’s an interesting counterpoint to the panel of companies that were on the stage just before him: the lineup included the CEOs of Box and Zendesk, both potential rivals of GitHub, depending on how it decides to tackle the collaboration and enterprise spaces.

While a $100 million round implies a nice valuation for the company, Preston-Werner ruled out that this would take the company soon to an IPO and public markets. “It’s not something we can think or talk about,” he said. “What we’re focused on is building products for people working together. Literally it’s not something we’re interested in thinking of right now.”

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