Hackernoon logoLessons From GitLab—A $1 Billion Business With 700 Remote Employees by@amirsan-roberto

Lessons From GitLab—A $1 Billion Business With 700 Remote Employees

Amirsan Roberto Hacker Noon profile picture

@amirsan-robertoAmirsan Roberto

Serial Entrepreneur |Blockchain 4 Social Impact |Sharing/Subscription Economy Researcher|

A lot has changed since I shared my last article related on COVID-19 (the most recent strain of coronavirus), and how AI and Blockchain professionals and industry experts are tackling the crisis.

Seems like Greta Thunberg`s dream came true: fewer planes, vehicles, factories, are functional, the situation has worsened beyond anyone's imagination.

Much of Europe is under lockdown and has closed its borders to its fellow EU members. Italy is the hardest hit so far, since its death toll recently surpassed China's. French President Emmanuel Macron simplified the situation by saying we are at “war” with the virus.

President Donald Trump, who had confidence in beating it, is now having a hard time, dubbing himself, "a war president". 

Vicenews has explored even further on how COVID-19 is impacting countries globally and measures that are being taken by authorities to prevent or get ready to tackle the pandemic.

Eurovision 2020, Eurosoccer 2020, the latest movie releases, concerts, major tech conferences around the world are canceling their events due to the coronavirus outbreak.

As of early March, the economic impact of these cancellations had surpassed $1.1 billion. The number is likely to continue to increase. Major cities from San Francisco to New York have banned large gatherings, as diagnoses in the U.S. have soared. It is undoubtedly a smart move for public safety, but all of these cancellations, particularly of major conferences, are taking a huge financial toll.

Since the beginning of the dot.com revolution, a number of companies pioneered or disrupted the media industry, taking power from well-established companies as individuals and SMEs uploaded content on the worldwide web, like YouTube. Other social media outlets followed, developing tools and empowering individuals and SMEs.

Prior to this global pandemic, a number of other startups were the first to experience new ways of working, that is, remote work or telecommuting.

When GitLab launched in 2012, the tech business comprised only of CEO Sid Sijbrandij, working at home on his computer in the Netherlands. His first hire was in Serbia. GitLab engineering fellow Dmitriy Zaporozhets, based in Ukraine, later joined as a co-founder. Soon they recognized the efficacy of eschewing a centralized workforce.

"I hired a few people in the Netherlands, and they came to my house," Sijbrandij said. And, he is the man who built a $1 Billion Business Where All 700 Employees Work Remotely.

The number of startups that developed tools, platforms, and solutions has improved remote work lifestyle. Remote work has grown 159% since 2005 and becoming vastly adopted during the current pandemic. Interestingly, statistically 86% of employees say they are most productive when they work alone. Witnessing the current crisis makes one think about and reimagine work, lifestyle, and efficiency.

What can we learn from Sid Sijbrandij during the current crisis to improve our productivity, to innovate, and to challenge our status quo?

1. The Office of the Future Is No Office at All

Although a controversial statement to think about and one that is hard to swallow, it reflected in the work style of GitLab. Though this way of work may not accommodate all industries, learning from the experience of the GitLab gives some ideas and insights to consider and improve.

GitLab is used by more than 100,000 organizations. Its 10,000 paying customers include 32 Fortune 100 companies, among them Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Verizon CommunicationsInc., and Charter Communications Inc. Goldman Sachs also has invested $20 million in the company and remaining HQ free doesn`t affect the quality of the platform, services and features.

"We are on the forefront of a revolution in working,

Mr. Sijbrandij said, adding the point is to measure output, not the number of hours worked.

2. Commute Free - not only for Developers

In his article, Mr. Sijbrandij provides well-detailed insights on how developers are seen and projected As The Next Mass Profession. However, in our interconnected world, any form of knowledge or skillset can be applied in many options.

For example, youtube provides a great opportunity to share expertise and benefit financially. There are probably millions of channel owners. One of my favorites is #nerdwriter channel that has over 2.5 million followers, Evan Puschak is the creator and genius behind the all great content that benefits from his loyal followers and reaps well deserved financial rewards The piece that made me follow and enjoy his work is below.

Anna Chubaeva, one of our most trusted partners that helps with our UX/UI design-related challenges works remotely and manages dozens of teams globally, never spent a day in the office.

Luke Sheehan is another shining example of a nomadic lifestyle and remote work enthusiast, he is one of the leading editors at Genaro Network and advises dozens of Blockchain and other startups on their content strategies

I cannot resist the 16-year-old entrepreneur Azamat Khamidov who is the co-founder and CTO at D23. He is helping his clients to transform their business to digital using Telegram Bots across Central Asia as the pandemic is spreading. His expertise and passion to drive change is admirable, especially at his age.

3. Lowering Costs

Although WeWork has popularized a lifestyle powered by work and life balance, centering community and its power, no one anticipated challenges or even remotely imagined that COVID-19 would hit and hit hard. One of the options that companies will surely consider is remote spaces, either at home or at work, eliminating costs for HQ or offices overall. This is already a well-practiced tendency. Its adoption will only grow, like the Sharing or Subscription economy, as less pay and access to more benefits gives flexibility to employees, partners, and other involved parties as long as a project is handled in a timely manner.

4. Cross-cultural Communication Reimagined or Reinvented

Slack and TrelloAsana, and Tencent`WeChat have all reinvented the channels of communication in business, providing dozens of productivity tools. Yet, cross-cultural communication for global teams requires more integrated, online solutions to improve their communication. Remote work will ultimately be a great source of inspiration. The following is a great example, since cross-cultural communication is paramount for global teams online and offline.

5. Changing Our Definition of Getting Work Done or to Make Remote Work Great

The outbreak has pushed everyone, literally everyone, to rethink, recalibrate, and reflect on how to live, how to work, and how to engage utilizing existing and emerging technologies.

The way we organize events, take to virtual activities, integrate remote work, and increase adoption of all of this across more industries is becoming the new normal. Marketplaces, platforms, cloud services, video conferences, and a bunch of other services will be on a bigger, unprecedented demand to maintain basic human touch. Luckily, there are those companies that successfully integrate remote work that can be adopted big time.

A number of products that allow people to remain productive is getting bigger, and some of those that we surely benefit from are:

Upwork's Stratis Karamanlakis, Srini Anumolu, and Sanjay Noronha have reinvented the way we hire, outsource professionals, and access a talent pool on a budget.

Shopify's Founder and CEO Tobi Lutke allowed professionals to benefit from the power of e-commerce, dropshipping, and the power of the authentic product, even crowdfunding. Shopify within a single website not only incorporated the list of service providers helping clients to outsource the development of online store, but also provided free workshops and tutorials.

During my recent meeting to discuss potential e-Commerce ideas with Alexander Prudnikov, who is China’s sourcing solution pro and affluent among Chinese speakers, he stated the number of clients requesting his services tripled in less than four weeks. Most of his clients are the owners of Shopify stores.

Zoom's founder and CEO Eric Yuan improved the communication tool, and it is now one of the main options we use to communicate. Some products that work well in China fail to work well overseas due to hosting, DNS, or other technical challenges. Some products that function well overseas fail to work well in China, even with VPN services. Yet, Telegram and Zoom are great sources of video conferencing and communication, helping to stay in touch with employees and partners and keeping business going worldwide.

Slack's CEO Stewart Butterfield helped to replace emails, and China's WeChat is now one app for all needs, empowering any individual to manage any type of task, anywhere, as long as they have access to the internet. It is similar to a remote work lifestyle that will only increase in adoption

Amazon, Ebay, Taobao, Tmall, Aliexpress, JD, and dozens of other Chinese stores provide great opportunities for merchants to deal with factories in China, sell online, and ship abroad, in other words, making dropshipping even more popular in times of crisis.


Our lifestyle and perception of life, work, and almost everything will be subject to change because of this pandemic. It will push everyone to think differently and live differently. The changes will span from how we work, travel, and shop, to the level of security and safety that we are accustomed, to the way in which we communicate and interact locally and globally.

While not everything can be virtual, necessity resulting from today’s environment has pressed us to be more innovative, push the limits, and think outside the box. It has made us do activities like working, schooling, and even getting some medical care online, and more will follow.

A crisis, like COVID-19, presents an opportunity for development, like the need for more sophisticated technology and advanced science, to accommodate and support this new way of living and working. Besides causing significant fundamental changes in the economy, politics and the workplace, it has also prompted less division, a greater appreciation of some of life’s simple pleasures, and reflection on those things we take for granted.


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