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The repository hosting company GitHub appears to be in the midst of a crisis, with at least 10 executives leaving in the last few months. A recent article from Business Insider provides some insight into the changing culture at the company, which may be the reason some of the executives left. These changes are mainly the responsibility of cofounder Chris Wanstrath, who took over as CEO in 2014.

GitHub used to have a flat organizational structure, where nearly everyone who worked there were considered peers except a few important individuals at the top. However, Wanstrath’s tenure has seen the rise of supervisors and middle management. Another huge change is that upper management are no longer allowed to work remotely, but must report in at the office. These changes have met opposition within the company, and Business Insider reports that no longer being able to work remotely was at least part of the reason why some executives left recently.

Although many in the company are resistant to these changes, at least one person who spoke to Business Insider defended them. The person to compares the current situation in GitHub to the situation in Facebook a few years ago, and argues that organizational changes are needed once the company reaches a certain size. “With the benefit of experience, 2-3 years, it’s very similar to a set of anecdotes about Facebook, where Sean Parker took off and Gideon Yu, and Owen Van Natta and there’s all this drama. And hello? It’s a hypergrowth company and it’s a normal upgrade cycle,” the person explained, “There was a remote culture and very little hierarchical structure which worked wonderfully when they were 30 and 50 people, but at 500, it doesn’t work. Chris has decided that the leadership team needs to be in the building and managing, so remote is not an option for senior executives.”

Another cause of controversy within the company is the social impact team, which is in charge of dealing with social issues including diversity within the company. The leader of the team and VP of social impact is Nicole Sanchez, who previously caused controversy with an article in USA Today arguing, “More white women does not equal tech diversity.” Sanchez brought up a similar point at a diversity training talk, which had a slide stating, “Some of the biggest barriers to progress are white women.”

While many in the company are in favor of more diversity, they are growing concerned with the direction of the social impact team. One person stated, “They are trying to control culture, interviewing and firing. Scary times at the company without a seasoned leader. While their efforts are admirable it is very hard to even interview people who are ‘white’ which makes things challenging.” Many long-term employees are also describing a culture of fear at the company, where those who don’t support all the changes are being driven out.

Others at the company speak of leadership problems and describe Wanstrath as, “trying to keep everyone happy by not making the hard decisions necessary of leaders.” Another says Wanstrath, “hides in conference rooms.” Also of concern to some in the company, is the apparent absence of key technical talent from the early days of the company. CTO Ted Nyman and cofounder PJ Hyett reportedly don’t appear at the office much and don’t often contribute technically anymore.

Is GitHub facing a major crisis, or is this just a result of the company’s rapid growth? Leave your comment below.

Max Michael

Senior Writer

I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.

  • I just don’t understand why companies have this obsession with stuffing everyone into the same building. The Internet has been a thing for a while. There’s dozens of collaboration platforms (Google Drive etc.) and similar things and have been for ages.

    It wastes fuel. It’ worse for the environment. It’s probably worse for the workers morale, and it’s definitely worse for the workers’ time. I don’t know about you, but one of the worst things I’ve had to deal with in the jobs I’ve worked is the commute. It’s so draining, and it’s incredibly aggravating when it’s something you could very easily do from home.

  • Scripturient Knight

    Ah the joys of seeing something that works, is working and will continue to work…. Then ruining it by saying “I can make it better!” These idiots are ruining everything around them in the name of progress then calling it bigotry, racism, sexism, or some other -ism when their bosses realize that they are the ones at fault.
    In tech only one thing matters is results. The moment you get bad results the smart move is to undo the damage and try to make up the loss. These morons just keep doubling down and stating their ideas work despite all evidence to the contrary.

  • trudatness

    Won’t hire white people? Lawsuit in 3..2..1..

  • SpartanCaliber

    Github needs to gitgud

  • Max

    Its really amusing because Github itself is one such collaboration platform that lets people work together on a project over the internet, but now they are against people working remotely in their own company.

  • Johnathon Tieman

    I deleted my account over at Github earlier today. For those looking for an alternative, I moved my projects over to BitBucket.

  • I really hope that GitHub can rejuvenate itself. It’s so darn convenient, and it’s what everyone uses. Hopefully the garbage “diversity” that’s been promoted dies out and meritocracy rises back up to take it’s place.

  • Tony Stark

    Open Source projects are what “inclusivity” is supposed to be at its core. Skilled contributions.
    However, the barriers to entry now are the entryists controlling who gets to contribute on the most shallow of reasons.

  • James May Not

    Succinctly put: Identity politics are poison.

  • Badmojo7

    BitBucket is the name that keeps popping up, guess that will be the default replacement.

  • DrearierSpider

    Didn’t some of the most forward thinking and influential civil rights activists say they didn’t want skin color to be a factor in situations like these? It’s amazing how many people who claim to be inspired by them are oblivious to this fact.

  • you can always fork projects

  • InzMovi

    Github on suicide watch. Good

  • SomeCollegeStudent

    This is probably a problem where upper management or the one in charge wrongfully assumes they know best, even though many of the other employees of a better way. Not surprising when you consider that nobody likes being told they’re wrong, especially by someone “lower” than them, and upper management doesn’t always understand how the company’s products are made.

  • While growing pains are part of any successful company, discrimination and racism are not. The execs shouldn’t be whining about having to work on-site but don’t distract from the real problems of mismanagement, racism and discrimination.

  • Johnathon Tieman

    It’s pretty much the only other big player, and it conveniently offers private repos for free (good when getting started and personal code that no one else will ever use).