I always love when a member of the audience asks our guest a more insightful question than I do. It takes a village, people!
Last night, one of our attendees asked GitHub’s CEO and co-founder Tom Preston-Werner about how he runs GitHub as a distributed company. You could see the fire well up inside him on this one, as he believes that anyone who is not running his company in a distributed way is — by definition — not hiring the most talented people in the world. Because while Silicon Valley has a lot of talent, it certainly doesn’t possess all of it.
That said, you have to do more than just hire anywhere to make a distributed company work in practice. He explains how to structure a company to be distributed in the clip above.
Preston-Werner feels so strongly about GitHub’s distinct structure that it was a big reason he and his founders put off raising money as long as they did. Simply put, he didn’t think VCs would permit his “open source” and distributed corporate structure. Now, he says GitHub’s performance has proven their philosophy was valid.
As Preston-Werner described why he felt a distributed workforce was a no-brainer, I was reminded of our PandoMonthly with WordPress’s Matt Mullenweg, who has a similar view. If you missed that one, here’s a link to why Mullenweg too employs a staff that can live anywhere. Neither can imagine building a company any other way.
Interestingly, Mullenweg was one of the first people Preston-Werner met when he came to San Francisco, and Automattic eventually bought Preston-Werner’s side-project Gravatar. While talent may be distributed everywhere, that kind of serendipity is the most concentrated in Silicon Valley.