Joel Gascoigne is doing a series about overnight successes - or rather, successes that may look like sudden events until you find out about the long history of persistence behind them.
This one is about Tom Preston-Werner, one of the cofounders of Github:
The most interesting thing I see with Tom's story so far, compared to what happened next, is that the link between the two is very strong indeed. Tom's life for the many years before GitHub was immersed in web design, web standards and open source. This is the area which GitHub catered to. The other illuminating thing is his explicit learning from Gravatar that having a business model is crucial. I think this alone is what triggered Tom and his co-founders to build something with revenue from the start and bootstrap GitHub all the way to a company able to employ 100 people with no outside funding.
Tom (and his Github cofounders) was involved in building things-that-might-have-been-startups for quite some time before Github. And then they saw an opportunity to really kick ass and build something extremely viable as a business, and they were ready, both from the perspective of their technical expertise, and in terms of their business mindset, to make the most of it. Github had incredibly good timing, but it was also very, very well executed.
Joel also has another article in the same vein, about Kevin Systrom of Instagram.
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