I’ll take this opportunity to rant a bit because gitlab vs. bitbucket vs. github has a lesson for software businesses, both current and future.
GitHub wins because of network effects and that’s their almost insurmountable moat.
They don’t win by a little, they win by a wide margin.
I use GitHub for my open source projects because that’s where everyone else is. And I use it for my private projects because I already know GitHub.
And since GitHub “owns” 99% of open source projects, they serve as a black hole-like gravitational force to attract more and more developers.
Once that rich-get-richer effect kicks in, the business is almost impossible to unsettle as they grow at a faster rate than others.
This is not about features.
To compete with GitHub one would have to build a service that is on another level, quality and feature-wise. None of the alternatives are.
(as an aside, Gitlab is kicking GitHub’s ass in how quickly they improve and in 5 years they could be a serious challenger, but only because their rate of improvement was so much higher. GitHub really stagnated and didn’t introduce major features in years. Which is typical of monopolies. With Microsoft’s acquisition I hope/suspect that GitHub will start improving quickly again)
BTW: here’s how short-lived the GitHub -> Gitlab move is:
(a current snapshot of https://monitor.gitlab.net/dashboard/db/github-importer?orgId=1).
Other code hosting platforms are perfectly fine and go use them, especially if you don’t care about the social aspect, but the non-GitHub market is about 1%.
And I made this rant not to comment about relative merits of GitHub vs. Bitbucket but because way too often I see people working on ideas that compete with products that have powerful network effects, like competing with Reddit or competing with Disqus or competing with Disqus v2 or competing with medium or fiverr or upwork or woofoo.
On one hand it’s understandable: a popular product validates the need for it and there’s always the hope of “if I can get a tiny fraction of those millions of users, I’ll make a good living”.
People often fail to consider how to market their software and especially how to market against companies that have so much google juice they could fill a lake with it.