#113 Brendan O'Leary from healthcare to Gitlab
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Brendan O'Leary 0:00
You're sending notification to patients that they do or do not have suspected cancer. You know, that's really critical. You can't, if you get that wrong in one direction or another, it's it has major impacts on people's lives. And so that really shaped, you know, my thought on what quality software was. And, but but not only what quality of software is, but really the impact that the people on the processes have in it, right? Because, again, you've got users that are using our software, in many cases, our users were physicians themselves. And you know, it's not really okay to just say, well, the user just didn't know what they were doing. In this case, again, you've got to really take responsibility for that. As a software developer, the thing I used to say all the time, the name of the software is mag view. And I would say to my team, like our job is mag view that the physicians job or the technologist job is the patient. So never assume that the person on the other end of the phone should know what they're doing with the software. That's our job.
Tim Bourguignon 1:06
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast bringing you the making stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. My name is Tim Bourguignon, and today, I receive Brendan O'Leary. Brendan is a dev evangelist at Gitlab. He worked in healthcare in Environmental services for the US Department of Defense. But outside of work, you'll usually find him with one to four kids hanging off him at any given time, but not right now, Brendan or?
Brendan O'Leary 1:38
Tim Bourguignon 1:40
Okay, good. Welcome to the journey.
Brendan O'Leary 1:43
Thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here.
Tim Bourguignon 1:45
So the the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story looked like and imagine how to shape their own future. So let's go back to the ever beginning of your story. Where would you place the stock It's a few days journey.
Brendan O'Leary 2:01
That's a great question. And I think I kind of have two origin stories. I don't want to be, you know, too greedy here, but I feel like there's two there's two ways that it started. I always had an interest in computers. Right. And I, you know, I've, I've been playing around with them for a long time. It may date myself a little bit, but I was getting on the internet in the early days of dial up and my mother fighting with me over the phone line, because we only had one phone line. I remember my father telling me to just wait for cable internet, and I said, What's cable internet? You're making that up? I don't think that's a real thing.
Tim Bourguignon 2:38
Remember that? Yeah. So
Brendan O'Leary 2:39
So yeah, I had that early experience with computers. But I was kind of in more like that traditional, like, break fix technology world for a while and I thought that was the way I was gonna go kind of what you would call traditional it and not really software. I would say my first taste of software programming is rather unconventional that's why I think it's important to share because there's a lot of unconventional ways to get to software programming as a as a career. And that was with programming lights. So I spent a good amount of time in high school in college in technical theater. So, you know, lighting shows for both my high school production and then I like to say professionally doing it in college, because technically I was paid by the by the theater there. But it's not exactly your traditional professional theater. Right? It wasn't on Broadway. But yeah, I would program lights and you know, that's in a lot of ways. Similar to programming. You're trying to have a repeatable thing happen reliably every time. And that was kind of my first foray into programming, although not your traditional form of programming.
Tim Bourguignon 3:53
Was it software ready or was it a hardware electronics?
Brendan O'Leary 3:57
So it's a little bit of both right so there's salt software that helps you run the hardware. So you have, you know, series of dimmers and other pieces that turn lights on and off or change the color of lights. And then you have a piece of software that you use to build your quote unquote program. So it's not you're not writing it in a programming language, but you're programming exactly how you want things to happen and what order and you know, it may change you know, given certain variables and that kind of thing.
Tim Bourguignon 4:30
What hooked you beside the paycheck obviously, what you can hook to you in this in this first programming tasks?
Brendan O'Leary 4:40
that's a that's a great question. So I I wasn't really into theater when I was younger. And my father wasn't really either. But he told me to go see a show that my high school was putting on at the time, the jesus christ superstar and the reason he said I would like it is because he knew I like to classic rock, and it's kind of got this classic Rock feel to it as a show and so it was really my love of classic rock that then opened my eyes to what theater could be in and, and theater that really got me interested in you know, kind of, you know how to make things work and the kind of relationship between software and hardware.
Tim Bourguignon 5:21
Oh, did you do on the on the planks yourself doing some, some acting.
Brendan O'Leary 5:26
So I didn't. So we talked about my wife and I met through theater, and we talked about her as the star of the show, and I'm in the background which works, you know, just generally in life, I have acted on stage one time, but most of the time I was behind the scenes.
Tim Bourguignon 5:42
Okay. And so how do you do then go from this, this hardware, tinkering and making likes hopping lights happen to more a software developer role? Sure.
Brendan O'Leary 5:57
So I went to like I said, I was in college at the time. I'm at the University of Maryland, in the States, and I was studying business actually, which isn't something I normally admit on a technical podcast, but you know, I feel safe here. So I studied business, but but with a focus on information systems. So how, how was how, you know, do Information Systems impact business, which obviously, today, you know, we see, basically every business is a software business, and I don't I wouldn't say that I had that insight back then. But it was, you know, interesting enough for me to study at the time. And then I happen to get to know an alumni who had a software business in medical software, and I started to work for them. I was an intern there, kind of just doing support, you know, taking calls from customers that we're having issues with our software and helping them solve that. Those problems. And eventually I was offered a job full time there when I left school, helping to run our engineering and product groups there. And so that sounds really fancy, but we were only 13 people when I started. So it was a it was a small team, and it wasn't a big venture back startup was very much I call it a mom and pop shop of software. Back in the day, they're
Tim Bourguignon 7:26
still still 13. And still, it's already a big group.
Brendan O'Leary 7:29
Right, exactly. Well, we grew it over my almost 10 years there to something like 75 100 people and I thought that was astronomical growth. Until I met venture backed startups. That was almost nothing. Tuesday and
Tim Bourguignon 7:47
yeah, 13 to 75. That's something like a week to growth, you know, in a venture backed startup.
Brendan O'Leary 7:54
It is. I mean, not to not to like jump chronologically, but, but you know, I've been at Git lab now. for about two and a half years, and when I started, we were 150 people, and we're now 1300. So that's a much faster growth rate. To put it mildly,
Tim Bourguignon 8:09
yeah, you kind of buy. In some, in some ways it's a it's a similar. It's a similar loss of references. Because the way you deal with, with this company with 13 people or 20 people is completely different from 75. And the way you deal with 75 is completely different with 150. And the way we deal with hundred 50 completely different with 1000. So it's our it's double our eyes each time. It's true. Yeah, it's like every time you do that, you think the problems, you think you've solved all the problems, and then you just realize, Oh, wait, no, you just have a new set of problems to solve.
Brendan O'Leary 8:47
Which I mean, I guess is a great analogy for software engineering in general. Such your success in life.
Tim Bourguignon 8:55
Let's, let's restart the whole thing. You raised the code base off mean the company and start again? Exactly. Let's go back to your, to your 10 years in this in this first company, what What kept you so long in this company?
Brendan O'Leary 9:11
That's a great question. So it It had a pretty noble purpose so that it was in health care software and specifically in radiology and in women's imaging. So here in the United States and that's true in many countries, but it does vary. We do screening mammography, to screen women. for breast cancer, typically women that are over 40 getting a mammogram every year. And that is an interesting thing because it's not like the rest of Radiology which is normally diagnostic, like, My arm hurts. So I go get an X ray or an MRI versus this is you're taking asymptomatic patients and screening them to see you know, if you can catch because if you can catch cancer early You can, you know, greatly increase the ability for someone to survive it. So I learned there like more about cancer than I ever thought I would know in my life and, and, you know, it was a very noble pursuit, right to say, Hey, we're helping physicians who are helping, you know, women who may or may not have breast cancer, right, one in eight women in their lives will get breast cancer. And again, the sooner you can find it, if you can find it, when it's small, it's it's very treatable, versus if you don't, it can be, you know, have a huge impact on someone's life. And so, that that kept me there. And I really, really believed in the mission of that, that business.
Tim Bourguignon 10:40
I can totally relate to this. I worked for Siemens in the in the oldest side of off cancer, so in radio oncology, and, and I felt during the time when I was there, a really deep connection to to the medical staff we were helping and the patient sighs so on on the In the clinics when I went in with for visit and look over the the shoulders of our technicians using our machines, there was really something you're deeply emotionally linked to what's happening and and that kept me going. I guess I never felt such a deep connection with a field I was working on. Ever since that's that that was really highlight.
Brendan O'Leary 11:23
Yeah, it's tough. It's tough to find that kind of thing. Right. And my father who works for a company that sells paper goods, you know, like janitorial supplies and, and those kinds of things would always say to me, like, Brendan, you have a pretty well off that you get to go to work and, you know, it's, you're removed, right? Like, you're obviously you're not, and you know, as well as I do, clearly from from your time at Siemens, you know, you're not a healthcare worker, you're not the people that are the healers, but if you can help them It makes you feel like you can, you know, really have an impact. act on care. And again, in, in software and engineering, you can have this, you know, large public health level impact, right. And so we had customers that represented some of the people on the cutting edge of, of breast cancer detection and treatment. And so if you can help those people, be better at their job, understand the data that they have more, understand the disease more, you can have a pretty big impact. And it's hard to see sometimes, right? It's hard to see when you're looking at lines of code, or you're thinking about a bug or you're, you know, trying to figure out why something's broken. But at the end of the day, having having that patient at the other end, in the very even if it's removed by a couple of a couple of layers is is really important.
Tim Bourguignon 12:48
I think it's all Scott hanselman on them to the gurus from Microsoft, I'm the choices title was saved. If your software isn't saving babies, you need to chill out and save And if it does, then you don't have enough tests. But that's, it's true.
Brendan O'Leary 13:03
And see, I was always say that at least we didn't have like a patient on bit like, right. Your point at Siemens, you're radiating patients that's, it's interesting, even in healthcare software, you can have this gradient of folks that are like, well, at least we're not in a surgical room. Right. Like, I would always say that. I mean, like, I mean, it's serious a problem, obviously. But it's not like a delays of microseconds make a difference, right. Like they wouldn't have surgery. So yeah, it's it's interesting. It's an interesting field, healthcare technology for sure.
Tim Bourguignon 13:33
It is definitely is definitely and then dealing with the FDA is a is a whole thing in itself.
Brendan O'Leary 13:38 It sure is. I don't need to tell you that.
Tim Bourguignon 13:44
I'm only interested since since it's where you started, how you entered the this medical industry in terms of software quality and and the expectations you had on the developing software for the industry. facing this medical field, which is really a whole beast in itself, how did your understanding of software quality started and then evolved during the 10 years over there? I think
Brendan O'Leary 14:11
it really shaped a lot of my thoughts even to this day, about software quality again, we were really small team. And so, you know, we, of course, moved quickly and, and probably moved quickly and broke things, but it was an industry where you can't break things, right. Like you can't be wrong at all, in the sense of you can't if you're we're sending notification to patients that they do not have suspected cancer, you know, that's really critical. You can't, if you get that wrong in one direction or another, it's it has major impacts on people's lives. And so that really shaped You know, my thought on what quality software was, and, and also but but not only what quality software is, but really the impact that the people on the processes have in it, right? Because, again, you've got users that are using our software. In many cases, our users were physicians themselves. And you know, it's not really okay to just say, well, the user just didn't know what they were doing. In this case, again, you've got to really take responsibility for that. As a software developer, the thing I used to say all the time, the name of the software is mag view. And I would say to my team, like our job is mag view that the physicians job and they're the technologists job is the patient. So never assume that the person on the other end of the phone should know what they're doing with the software. That's our job. And so that's a really, really critical way of looking at things and I think sometimes is lost, right when we think when we see it, you know, other maybe less critical quote unquote, software projects where accessibility is made secondary or user experiences secondary. You know, that's, that's not making that's making the software your users job. We You should basically never do if you want to be successful.
Tim Bourguignon 16:04
Did you have any, any other job between this one and get lab?
Brendan O'Leary 16:08
So yes, I went, I went to a similarly important customer on the other end, although very different fields. I went and worked for a company that was a contractor to the US Department of Defense. So, there's, it's kind of, it's kind of a 180 in some ways, if you think about it, but you know, this, this contractor, mostly focused on the Intelligence Division of the Department of Defense, and ensuring that, you know, the information the folks down in in the field have the most accurate information possible. So again, a very kind of important mission on the other end of the line from the software, if you will. And so yeah, that was an interesting experience. I live near Washington, DC, and For those that don't know, the area, probably 90% of people are government contractors here. So it felt like something I had to do in my life because everyone who I live around does it. But you know, again, very different kind of time horizon for software delivery, very different views. Of what quality means, again, and software, very structured way of thinking about things, obviously. So that was an interesting experience to see that as well. And again, kind of a 180 from going from healthcare to the Department of Defense and a lot of ways.
Tim Bourguignon 17:36
It definitely it's also that this accessibility and in UX that you mentioned, this is not something that I necessarily combined in my mind with God. It's a
Brendan O'Leary 17:50
it's interesting, you would think not that yes, I totally see where you're coming from and UX. To be fair is not a high up on the list. Although accepted ability is higher than you would think. So the US government actually has some very stringent standards for software that it purchases around accessibility. Now, the Department of Defense is exempted from some of those things in some cases, because they have to have exemptions in general, right? Like, unfortunately, you can't necessarily be a frontline soldier if you know you're visually impaired or similar things. But in general, the US government, you know, they're the largest employer in the US. And so they have actually very stringent accessibility rules for software they purchased because they have a hugely diverse workforce in the federal government, which is kind of encouraging to see. So accessibility, yes, UX, no, not so much. The mission was the mission and the users experience using it was not the most critical thing for the mission. That's for sure.
Tim Bourguignon 18:58
memory that was on there was this This tweet I guess from Was it a new alert that came as a as a tweet from the President or something a couple years ago? I think it was
Brendan O'Leary 19:10
like one of those emergency alerts you get on your cell phone I think it was. Yeah. And it was Yeah, that's a big mistake right there.
Tim Bourguignon 19:18
And I think I think it all came down to UX problem that the this test button was right beside the live test was right beside something else and that it was very easy to to miss click and just send a live test to ever
Brendan O'Leary 19:34
which is a big difference right that's that's what I need to get wrong. I was a big panic right with that.
Tim Bourguignon 19:42
So so let's let's continue your journey. You went from this medical field to the the DD doing 180 as you say, and then you do one ATM going toward startups. Did you?
Brendan O'Leary 19:55
I did Yes. No, I very, very big one at again, right. The The Department of Defense, you know, extremely well funded, been around for a long time. And then I went to a startup in Git lab. So I actually had been a git lab user. Prior to that. I used I inherited the get lab instance, actually at that role. I was a director of DevOps there. And so I Git lab was one of the tools I ran. And my team worked on, but I actually hadn't thought about it as a company. And I had a friend who was being recruited to work at Git lab, and he said, Oh, you should, you should check out Git lab and, you know, see what they're all about and read our Handbook, which, famously or not, is entirely public. So our company handbook that we actually really use to run the company is all on our website, and actually publishes under a Creative Commons license for those that may want to fork the company. real
Tim Bourguignon 21:01
interesting idea. Yeah.
Brendan O'Leary 21:03
And I actually was on vacation with my family in at a beach and it was raining most of the week. And I ended up reading a whole bunch of this handbook and it kind of just read like, the company I'd want to run if I own a company, and I fell in love and my wife fell into annoyance with me keep continuing to point things out to her and like, Oh, look at this, look at this. There's a spending company money page that says rule number one is spend company money like it's your money. And rule number two is No really, you know, things like that i would i would bring to her and she would get really annoyed with and yeah, I kind of fell in love with the company and then I met who would become my first boss here. And and she was incredible. And then I really wanted to work for her and kind of didn't care about Git lab. But she was at get lab so I came to work for her. And, and yeah, I ended up here and I With a lot of other amazing people, and at the time, we just, we had just raised a series C. And we've raised money a couple times since then. And so we've been on kind of a hyper hyper growth trajectory as a company.
Tim Bourguignon 22:18
How did your role evolve in these two years? Was it?
Brendan O'Leary 22:22
Yes, yeah, it's been here since October of 2017. So just just over two years, and it's it's evolved a lot, I actually have spent time in our sales team function. I spent time in our product function, and I'm now in our marketing function. So I've, I say I'm going for the most titles at get lab is the the award we're going for. I spent time originally in the sales function, helping to grow out our professional services group. We didn't have one at the time. And we wanted to grow one. And I knew about how to administer Git lab so it was kind of an hour. Fit. And and spend time doing that. And then our product group started to grow as we were, you know, expanding kind of the width of what we wanted to do with the product. And I really wanted the opportunity to run a part of that, which is our CI product. And so I spent time as a product manager for Git lab ci. And that was fantastic. And then I ended up again, it was, it's all based on people, right? I had been pursued for some time by a woman Her name is Priyanka Sharma to come work for her at get lab. And at the time, she was running, technical evangelism. And she said, You got to come be come be an evangelist and I finally came to the realization that she was right. I had been kind of a part time evangelist for Git lab, my whole career here. And we were big enough now that no one can really do it part time and if you wanted to do it, you He needed to do it full time. And so I, I made the move to do that. And since then Priyanka has moved on, she's now running the CNC F, which is fantastic for her. But thankfully, she talked me into it before she she left.
Brendan O'Leary 24:11 What is
Brendan O'Leary 24:12
CNC F. So the CNC f does the cloud native computing foundation. They're the folks that are the part of the Linux Foundation that have Kubernetes and Prometheus and a number of other technologies. Okay. And so she's now the general manager over there, which is fantastic for her. But thankfully, before she left here, she talked me into becoming an evangelist.
Tim Bourguignon 24:35
Which what qualifies you to be a part time evangelist while you were doing something else? Well, how do you define this this role?
Brendan O'Leary 24:44
that's a that's a good question. I would think that it's something that is only defined in retrospect. But it wasn't it wasn't defined at the time but in retrospect, it makes more sense. You know, when you're when you're 150 people or so in a in a You know, a new startup going to get up against, you know, large incumbent players in the market. And everybody kind of has this role of part time evangelist. In some ways. For instance, the story I tell there is when, when GitHub was being acquired by Microsoft, we had heard that might happen. And I had said, I had one of my services team at the time to put together videos in general about how to, you know, move from one product to another move from other products to get lab. And, you know, GitHub to get lab was a video I had in mind for that. And I was like, Oh, well, we'll make that someday. And then it became more urgent because it was like, Oh, I bet there's gonna be a huge influx when folks realize that Microsoft's buying GitHub. And so I decided to do that that next week. Well comes to find out that the story got leaked, and it was all happening much faster than we thought and He asked my wife for four hours on the weekend to do this, which is a big ask because as we said, at the top, I've got four kids. So that's not an insignificant ask. And I spent an hour making the video in three hours adding the audio and that's when I bought this microphone was immediately following that week. Because I was never gonna do that again. But I made this video and it took off, we had a huge influx of of people that wanted to come and try Git lab because they were worried about what might happen to get up in a Microsoft world. And you know, that was not really my job at the time was not to market Git lab to those folks. But you know, I made this video about how to convert your repositories if you wanted to, and it went viral and it did really well. And so, it took me a while to realize that that that kind of passion this Stuff that you'll ask for a big favor from your significant other on the weekend for that means something and I, it took me a while to realize that that meant that I should do that full time.
Tim Bourguignon 27:11
Do other realizations of things that make you maybe happy to do that you didn't necessarily verbalized before and then realize, oh, gosh, that's something I like so much. And this should be part of my day job, maybe?
Brendan O'Leary 27:25
Yes, I think I think so. So I, it's hard to, really, again, it seems like I should have known it earlier. But I'd like to talk right, I really enjoy other people. I'm a huge extrovert. When I first was coming to an all remote company. My wife was really concerned that I wasn't going to have enough social interaction, and it was going to really weigh on me. Turns out, that's worked out fine. There's lots of ways that we make time for that social interaction. And and I think everyone now realizes that If you have to be remote, right, as we all have had to be in the middle of the pandemic, that you have to then go make conscious time, right? It takes effort, but you have to make time for social interaction to some degree, at least if you're extroverted like me. And, and so again, leveraging that as something that is kind of just natural about me and seems innate. It's not innate and everyone to want to speak and enjoy the sound of their own voice, or at least tolerate it enough
Brendan O'Leary 28:32 to record it on a weekend.
Brendan O'Leary 28:35
And so, you know, that ability really, really helped shape that. The other thing that really had a huge impact on me is when I first came to get lab, again, this is before I was an evangelist, I wanted to speak at a DevOps days. And I had a mentor here, who I really look up to, who's spent his whole career in software and and stuff Architecture and speaking. And I came to him and I said, Okay, I've got all these, these ideas for, for what I want to speak about and it was, you know, DevOps blah, blah, blah and dadadada, da, ci, CD and brother, all these very boring talk titles. And I don't think I can use the exact words that he used at the time. But suffice it to say he did not think very highly of these things. And he said they were not very good. And, and he said, Brendan, you need to tell a story. And I took that extremely literally, I decided that he was right. And he was so right that I was going to go the complete other direction. And so the first tech talk I ever gave was entitled, Black Mirror season five DevOps, and it was about how black mirror applies to DevOps. And for those that don't know, you know, black As Netflix show, the kind of explores, you know, technology taken to the extreme and how that can have could have a very negative impact on society if we're not careful, right, for instance, no,
Tim Bourguignon 30:13
that's nonsense. Yeah. It's a shopping list for startups in the valley.
Brendan O'Leary 30:18
Well, also true, scarily enough, or, or as some people say, so I, I call it season five, because at the time, season five wasn't out. Season Five now exists. And as I've heard people say, season six is an interactive experience that we're all living here in 2020.
Tim Bourguignon 30:36
Brendan O'Leary 30:38 So, but yeah,
Brendan O'Leary 30:40
so as I told the story, I had clips from the show, I told the story of a number of episodes. And that talk went really well. And yeah, I brought it back to, you know, DevOps content concepts and I applied it to, you know, the field that we all spend time Thinking about, but stories are what connects people. It's how people have always communicated with each other. And so that kind of knack for storytelling, whether it's from my, you know, Irish ancestors or, or just in general, being me, really, really showed me that this is a career path I should look down.
Tim Bourguignon 31:23
That is awesome. I must plug it in right there. During the pandemic, I discovered the moth, which is a show about storytelling. And I think I, I was never that into storytelling before. And I gave a couple talks as well where I incorporated some ideas of storytelling in there. But since then, it just, it flipped my mind around I need to take all my talks and redo them completely differently. And do shows from the mouth are the ones I look forward to, when they when they show up at podcast. It's just as Absolutely amazing. It has nothing to do with with tech. But each and every one of those stories are just gut wrenching life stories from people. It's just so interesting. The moth, it's cold. It's just fantastic. Just try it out. It's amazing.
Brendan O'Leary 32:16
I completely agree. Those those stories are really important. I would. I know, we're not just plugging other podcasts now. But there's a podcast called Reply All that's about the internet. But it's interesting, because if you actually take a step back and look at that podcast, which again, I think is fantastic. It's it's stories about the internet, right? It's stories about technology and how they impact people's lives. And that's how people learn, right? Is is through stories. And I think it's an underrated skill. Marc Andreessen actually said once, Marc Andreessen, the famous venture capitalists of Andreessen Horowitz said that storytelling is the most underrated skill, of any kind of skill and I wouldn't agree with that.
Tim Bourguignon 33:00
It is it is definitely speaking about mixing, mixing skills. I want to go back to something you said at the beginning. You said you you studied business and business and that in some way it impacted your life. How do you see this discard that you played at very beginning learning business and then veering into software? Did you see it coming back throughout your life and use as a as an ace in your sleeve to combine things and do something differently then people around you could do with only software engineering, carving their own?
Brendan O'Leary 33:37
I think so. I don't think it's the only again, skill that can complement software engineering really well. Absolutely not. Right. But I do think it's one that is important. Right? I think that in the end you know, we live in a world where it's important to be able to understand how you can solve business problems for people and and business problems and many ways just are the human problems we have to solve day. I mean, there are, of course, more pressing problems, right? The, the fact that we're in the middle of a global pandemic shows us that very clearly. But, you know, in the end, in order to really, you know, market yourself and then get to a point in your career where you can, where you can impact change, I think that having some business background or understanding of how, you know, the business world works is an important one. Right? So for example, git lab is a developer tools company, right? Like we make tools for developers. We started out, you know, based on git, right, the open source, source control management tool, but it was through our relationships with the businesses that were using Git lab that we decided to kind of change our focus to say we're going to have a tool that does everything for us. You know, all of DevOps, and that's something that maybe we would have come to without that lens. But we might not have, we might have just made, you know, slightly better and slightly better source code management, which is fine. There's nothing wrong with that. But that business land and really how to solve problems that businesses have, again, it's that solving human problems, right? Because in the end of businesses, just this network of people and process and tools, and so if you can understand how those three things impact each other, it can have a really positive impact. And it has for me, enabled me to do a lot of different things. Throughout, you know, software, it's not just the hands on the keyboard that that solve the problem.
Tim Bourguignon 35:47
Yeah, and I know that you say it. I saw gait lab a couple years ago, more as well. That's the other GitHub and and now that GitHub is going toward action And adding more of the CI CD pipeline in there, and more and more realizing that, but that's something that gets Git lab has been having since years. So no, it's more GitHub is going to be the the other Git lab.
Brendan O'Leary 36:15
I'll take that. Right. I mean, they're they're got fantastic leadership over there now to it, right? We were talking about the acquisition. You know, Matt Freeman, who's now CEO, or there is is a really smart, amazing leader. And yes, I think we're seeing more and more, not just Git lab and GitHub, but across the developer tools, industry, this kind of consolidation of what people want is those tools to really get out of the way, right. And if if the thing we're doing is spending time, stitching tools together and making them integrate our developer stack, that's time that we don't spend on Solving problems for our customers, right? Again, I, I go back there's a story I tell often from my days at mag view where, again, our focus was healthcare software, right, we talked about how that was a critical, critical end user. And I one time was walking from the CEOs office back to my office. And that's important because the server room was in between our offices. And as I walked past the server room, the doors ajar, which is like never a great sign that there's like just the doors just held open at the server room. You never want to see that. And as I turn and look to the left, where where the server room is, I see who is my at the time top engineer on all of our newest, and like latest innovative products, like our most senior person, and he has a server on his lap, and he's got a screwdriver in the server. And, and that server was the redmine server, right? It wasn't like Something for a customer. It was like the bug tracker server redmine. And it had broken. And he needed it to know what he was, you know what he was supposed to do next and his job. And so he had opened it up and then taking the hard drive that was broken out and put in a new one. And that was kind of I had this epiphany that day, about, you know, I'm theoretically paying this person, right, the thing we want him to be doing is, is developing the software for our customers. The thing he is doing is is in the server room with a screwdriver. And it's like the that's not what you want to pay people to do. I mean, there's, obviously there's people that need to have screwdrivers and servers, but I didn't need of those 75 people, you know, a bunch of folks doing that at our company, I wanted them programming things for our customers. And so that's when we went to a lot of like, cloud developer services. As I like to say Git lab wasn't around at the time. So I went to the whole Atlassian stack in the cloud. And, and the But it was, that was a big deal, right? We were a small company, we weren't ventured back for me to go take my corporate card and put, you know, some software as a service platform every month on my credit card. My boss almost almost killed over when he heard me doing this and how much it was going to be. And I said, it's worth every penny for us not to have our senior engineer, you know, in the server room with a screwdriver. And so that I think we're seeing, you know, that just escalate and escalate. And where folks understand they don't want their teams doing undifferentiated work stitching tools together, they want one platform. Again, I think there's room for everybody. Right, but there's a few folks who in developer tool space are developing platforms that give you everything you need to be successful. And I think that them, the folks at GitHub, you know, adding actions that shows us that same thing, right, which is that folks don't necessarily want a whole marketplace of different things. They have to figure out how To use, they just kind of want it to work and to get on with the business of coding solutions for their customers.
Tim Bourguignon 40:08
Amen to that? Do you think there is a there is a system like like Git lab, which could stay longer than the than the others, my feeling in the industry is always you have a small product that just starts. For instance, you mentioned Atlassian, the JIRA products when they came out, which is fantastic. And now you cannot see any developer and speak the word gyra without having them cringe. I would somehow expect that that GitHub and get lab will evolve in this exact same way. And at some point, another company will show up and will be the new kid on the block and and they will become successful. But is this is this a pattern doomed to repeat itself? Or are we going to go come out of bed at some point?
Brendan O'Leary 40:56
It's a great question. I wish I knew the answer off the top of my head I do the next next billionaire if I did, I mean, I think that it's a completely valid assumption that we've seen that pattern before and it will repeat itself. I have some hope that it may not in the fact that we're like in this new world of kind of everyone and when I say everyone, I mean everyone accepting the reality and kind of the inevitable build ability of open source. I think that you know, at the time when when JIRA comes out for instance, you know, open source was definitely around an accepted by a lot of folks. But we now see you know, large businesses, starting entire open source teams, we see you know, Microsoft doing a 180 on on their views on open source and being this becoming a, frankly a, you know, a steward of open source and a lot of ways with Satya and all the teams there and I think think that that gives me hope that when developers are able to collaborate on the tools they're using, that we'll end up with fantastic tools out of that. Right? I mean, maybe that's naive of me. But, you know, the fact that, again, git lab, for example, but it's not the only example, is an open source tool that developers can contribute to. We have thousands of developers that contribute to it gives me hope that there'll be some staying power in terms of it can evolve more with developers and meeting them where they are, rather than, you know, being kind of set in stone. And now, you know, every dollar that you spend in investing in making it better, as is seen as taken away from, you know, the margins of the business that was built around it. Versus, you know, there's lots of folks using it in an open source way, right. Again, GitHub actions, right, that it's kind of built With open source in mind in the sense that, you know you anybody can build an action. And it's in the simple primitives along with open source that gives me hope that maybe we'll, we'll stop inventing new shiny toys, but you never know.
Tim Bourguignon 43:17
Now that you're saying it, that might be a way to to prevent the the turnover when the when the techies leave the room for the business people to run a company. If it's still open source, maybe that's a way to, to still keep it on on the line of its philosophy and and continue progressing, producing great product and not just make money out of it.
Brendan O'Leary 43:43
I would hope. I mean, again, get labs grown a lot since I've been here. But there are a lot of really passionate people in our open source community, and they hold us as a company to a pretty high standard and we try to lean into that and Ask them to hold us to that standard. Now, does that mean that we'll be perfect, right? And someone may look back on this podcast and five years and laugh at me for saying that, but I do think it creates an interesting, at least it's slightly different relationship. And we take our stewardship of the open source project really, really seriously. Like we have a page on our website that talks all about opens the stewardship of Git lab, the open source project, our CEO talks a lot about our open core model and why we think it's, it's valuable for the open source industry, why we think that it can help kind of prevent some of the like, takeovers of open source projects that we've seen, from large companies. And, and we, again, it's it's theory now I guess, until you see it in practice, but I have again, some hope that that it could maybe sustain us longer than normal.
Tim Bourguignon 44:59
And then Seems to be to be very deeply anchored in your Firmin philosophy not just in the product you're creating but as you say that your your company guidebook is also completely not not just open source but the Creative Commons The you put a lot of documentation online just for the sake of it from helping other people during the the krona innovate pandemic I rejoiced in reading the the remote guides that you put on your website. I think that it's anchored in the philosophy to to really be open source or really open at least not just in the code but also in the in the way you work and that might be helped to to keep the line and stay on this on this course. Yeah, I agree. It's something that we we used to have to like for instance remote. That's something that early on we had to convince investors have and now investors look to us and say, Wow, look at that they were cutting edge and they understood Remote before the rest of us did. And so
Brendan O'Leary 46:03
that is it. Again, I don't think that's us patting ourselves on the back, I think that shows that if you're open and transparent, and and share in successes and failures that, you know, that builds trust, right. And and that trust is, is earned, not given. And that's really valuable.
Tim Bourguignon 46:22
So that's the time where I would, I would ask you for foreign advice. And since since since we've veered into this direction, I'm going to tweak it a little bit. What would be the advice he gave to to not just newcomers, but also people have been in the industry a little bit
Brendan O'Leary 46:37 to
Tim Bourguignon 46:39
prepare themselves to going into such a company as Git lab. So very open company and trying to keep this philosophy up. Is there one advice he could give them?
Brendan O'Leary 46:51
I, I go back very often to what we quote as our mission, which is that everyone can contribute That's an attitude that I think is really valuable. It's something that like when someone's new at a company, and this has been true my whole career, I've said to them, Look, you have this really unique opportunity, while you're new, to contribute to the company in a way that I can't if I've been here for 10 years, we hired you, because, you know, a company hires you because they see your potential. And when you're new at a company or in a role that might not directly overlap with something else that you see going on. Keep in mind that your contributions are really valuable, and that everyone should be able to contribute. And those contribute should be welcomed. And hopefully, the leaders in your company feel that way. And if they don't, you can try to make them see that everyone should be able to contribute or maybe it's not the right fit. But there are plenty of folks that understand that. And so I think if you can embody it yourself, it will help Other folks speak up when when they see something that isn't quite right. So the fact that we say everyone can contribute, just then kind of builds on itself and makes everyone feel comfortable and in, in contributing.
Tim Bourguignon 48:15
Awesome. Thank you. Thank you very much. So where should the listeners hit you up if they want to continue this discussion with you? The easiest
Brendan O'Leary 48:23
place to find me is Twitter. And I'm always on twitter at O'Leary crew OLRY Cr ew. And I'd love to talk more there. I'm also going to be at our Git lab commit event, which is our like, branded Git lab event, which of course virtual this year on August 26. And because we were able to make it virtual, we're also able to make it free for attendees. So I'd love to see everyone there. We've got almost 5000 people signed up already. And so we're really excited for that. everyone to come and, and contribute the the theme this year is you belong here. We want to talk about everyone belonging at get lab but also everyone belonging in tech and how everyone's contributions can can matter.
Tim Bourguignon 49:13
Interesting. Thank you. Oh, both links to their show notes. Well then, thank you for much has been very interesting following your story and and learning more about you and about Git lab as well.
Brendan O'Leary 49:25
Great. Thanks for having me, Tim. This was fantastic. My pleasure.
Tim Bourguignon 49:28
And this has been another episode of developer's journey, and we'll see each other next week. Bye bye. Hi, this is Tim from a different time and space with a few comments to make. First, get the most of those developer's journeys by subscribing to the podcast with the app of your choice, and get the new episodes automagically right when they air. The podcast is available on all major platforms. Then, visit our website to find the show notes with old links mentioned by our guests, the advices they gave us their book references and so. And while you're there, use the comments to continue the discussion with our guests and with me, or reach out on Twitter, or LinkedIn. And a big, big thanks to the generous Patreon donors that helps me pay the hosting bills. If you can spare a few coins. Please consider a small monthly donation. Every pledge, however small, counts. Finally, please do someone you love a favor and tell them about the shoe today and help them on their journey.