GitLab Culture

Introduction

Please see our primer for more general information about GitLab.

The GitLab team in May 2016Back in May 2016, the whole team was a total of 85 GitLabbers

Advantages

Top 10 reasons to work for GitLab:

  1. Work with helpful, kind, motivated, and talented people.
  2. Work remote so you have no commute and are free to travel and move.
  3. Have flexible work hours so you are there for other people and free to plan the day how you like.
  4. Everyone works remote, but you don't feel remote. We don't have a head office, so you're not in a satellite office.
  5. Work on open source software so you can interact with a large community and can show your work.
  6. Work on a product you use every day: we drink our own wine.
  7. Work on a product used by lots of people that care about what you do.
  8. As a company we contribute more than we take, most of our work is released as the open source GitLab CE.
  9. Focused on results, not on long hours, so that you can have a life and don't burn out.
  10. Open internal processes: know what you're getting in to and be assured we're thoughtful and effective.

Historical Anecdotes

October 8th, 2011

Dmitriy started GitLab when he pushed the initial commit.

August 24th, 2012

Sid announced GitLab on HN.

September 14th, 2012

First 10 people get access to GitLab Cloud (now known as GitLab.com).

November 13th, 2012

GitLab CI is officially announced.

July 22nd, 2013

GitLab Enterprise Edition is announced.

April 18th, 2014

GitLab Cloud renamed to GitLab.com.

March 4th, 2015

GitLab in Y Combinator winter 2015 batch.

August 15th, 2015

Series A Funding was signed.

October 10th, 2015

Anniversary of our first ever summit in Amsterdam with 25 GitLabbers.

Team Stories

What better way to convey a sense of who we are and how we work together, than by sharing the stories about it?

The Boat


The Boat

Back then, the whole team used to fit in one car. And the car was called "the Boat".


We even took the Boat from San Francisco to Las Vegas to celebrate Job's bachelor party, but as you can see in this video, he thought we were going to visit a customer in Los Angeles!


The cattle


Staring down cattle

Staring down the cattle?

Our CFO, Paul, was on vacation on a cattle ranch, during a time of fundraising. Normally vacation is vacation of course, but in this case it was necessary to have some calls now and again which required strong internet. To get to strong internet, Paul had to cross fields with cattle in them, and stare them down. Over the course of many trips he learned that cattle are docile, mostly... but don't turn your back on them because they can't be outrun!

Internal Feedback

By sending out our Feedback Form (find the link to the "open" form by accessing this "closed" document) we gather feedback from GitLabbers anonymously. We then share the main highlights and concerns / wishes / things people wonder about with the entire team by discussing them during our Team Call and posting all topics that came up along with their responses here (with the exception of topics that by nature are not shared outside of the company). The responses may be altered from the original wording in an effort to maintain anonymity, while also maintaining the same spirit and message of the response.

Feedback from the GitLab team - November 2016

What you like about working at GitLab

Remote working environment, product development, challenge of working on the product, potential we have for "making it big," great co-workers, the sense of a team, great culture, the feeling of being valued, personal responsibility, willingness of GitLabbers to teach new GitLabbers, transparency, and team calls.

What you would like to change & what we are doing about it

  1. Make the handbook easier to navigate.
    • We have added an Onboarding guide for new GitLabbers. We also added Standard Operating Procedures for different departments to make what you are looking for easier to find. And don't forget, there is a search function at the top of the handbook that can help you find exactly what you are looking for! Update: This page has been moved to Onboarding
  2. Spend more time learning the technical side of our product.
    • Check out GitLab University to learn more about Git and GitLab. We will also be rolling out additional training on Git and GitLab during 2017 see issue.
  3. Refine the hiring process.
    • We have revamped our hiring process to be more efficient. Our global recruiters are working hard to ensure that every candidate is kept in the loop about where they stand in the hiring process, and managers are not spending too much time in Workable reviewing candidates. If you have any questions please feel fee to reach out on the #hiring channel on Slack.
  4. Refine the compensation principles.
    • Please check out our Global Compensation Framework. If you have any questions or concerns about the compensation principles, please let People Ops know!
  5. Focus on differentiating CE from EE.
    • We plan to build features that are interesting for enterprises and replace existing products.
  6. Focus on growth of GitLabbers within the organization.
    • People Ops has instituted Grovo (individual contributor and management training), as well as Lattice (OKRs) to assist in the growth of GitLabbers within their position at GitLab. We will continue to strive to work with managers to develop GitLabbers at GitLab by drafting Professional Development Plans see issue.
  7. More face-to-face meetings and ability to meet up with GitLabbers close by.
  8. Adjust the team call format to include more regular functional group updates.
    • The team call now has weekend updates every two weeks, a separate call for APAC GitLabbers to give their weekend update, and functional group updates are separate events.
  9. Have more employee agreements instead of contractor agreements.
    • People Ops will be working to establish new entities/payrolls in more countries as we grow. Once this is completed we can transfer contractors to employees.
  10. Hire in departments that need more GitLabbers.
    • We understand that there is always a lot to do at GitLab and for some departments this means that we might need to hire more GitLabbers. If this is the case please communicate this to your manager and/or People Ops. If appropriate People Ops will open the role, and add it to the jobs page.
  11. Refine onboarding to be less intense/intimidating.
    • Onboarding can be overwhelming and sometimes confusing. To alleviate confusion about what you are doing and why, we created an Onboarding guide to explain each step. Update: This page has been moved to Onboarding.
  12. Move unlimited vacation to a set amount so GitLabbers take their full vacation.
    • We are taking a look at what the best option is in regards to a limited or unlimited vacation. We want to urge that GitLabbers take enough time off to recharge! Unlimited vacation/taking vacation is encourage at GitLab. For information on how these developments are going, check out the open issue
  13. Less downtime on GitLab.com.
    • Our Infastructure team is always looking for new ways to improve the ownership of the things we ship. The team will look to have owners of services or features, and these services working will be the way they prove that they are actually delivering. Infrastructure has also increased uptime to 99.91% in December 2016.
  14. Casual and social interaction.
    • We have instituted Coffee Breaks to promote catching up with GitLabbers. Also, all GitLabbers are just a click away on Slack or a call away on the Random Hangout.
  15. Revise Workable Notifications.
    • Sometimes it can be hard to manage Workable notifications. Here are some guidelines to keep your inbox low.

What are you wondering about / What we are missing

  1. Are we growing too fast?
    • Check out our strategy page for why we are growing faster than feels intuitive.
  2. How to improve myself as a professional?
    • Aside from the internal tools at GitLab, you can expense any course or training that falls in line with Spending Company Money. Questions? Just ask your manager or People Ops.
  3. How are we using our series B funding?
    • We have released our master plan for how we plan on growing as a company as a result of our Series B Funding. Also, check out our Strategy Page.
  4. What are the plans for parental leave?
    • We are currently working on this issue.
  5. What are the mid to long term engineering strategies?
    • Make GitLab.com fast and reliable (99% page loads < 1 s).
    • Make GitLab a next-generation product.
    • Make GitLab a great place for engineers to grow.
  6. What does it take to move from a junior to intermediate or senior?
    • Some job descriptions have what is expected of a junior, intermediate, or senior, if applicable. For specific questions about each role, please speak with your manager. As this is still a work in progress for many roles, here is the open issue.
  7. Is there process for compensation reviews?
    • People Ops will be working on this in 2017.
  8. Will GitLab include a 401(k) match for US employees?
    • At this time, GitLab does not have a 401(k) match for US employees.
  9. Improve gender diversity.
    • Our Global Recruiters are working to ensure that the hiring process promotes diversity. We have also started a Slack Channel #diversity_inclusion. Please feel free to contribute at any time!
  10. Manager and 1:1 training.
    • As we grow and develop our internal trainings, we will make sure to educate managers on what should be discussed in 1:1's to ensure that the team member's personal and professional development is the core theme of these conversations.
  11. All meetings recorded by default.
    • All meetings that happen over Zoom are recorded and placed on the Google Drive under "GitLab Videos."
  12. Instructions on how to build a project on GitLab.
    • Here is some documentation on how to build a project within GitLab.

We also received a many responses stating we should not change or add anything, and that GitLab is an awesome place to work. This is great that GitLabbers feel this way, and People Ops will continue to strive to create a culture where GitLabbers are satisfied and engaged. Want to see where most of these changes were made? Check out the issue!

Feedback from September 2016, and presentation of responses

  1. Please checkout this presentation to see what responses and changes were made as a result of the September 2016 survey.

Feedback from January 2016, and responses

"What do you wish we had / What are you wondering about"

  1. "Contractor or employee? Worried about job security as a contractor."
    • We value all GitLabbers equally, regardless of the legal arrangement that you have with GitLab. Due to legal restrictions and the difficulty of having people be employees outside of the US or NL (where we have a legal entity), a large portion of the team are contractors (21 out of 46). At GitLab, as everywhere else, job security relies mostly on how you are performing as a team member, and how the company performs as a whole. By the way, the contracts that we use are all viewable on https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/contracts/
  2. "More patience and consideration with ideas from newer people, things are sometimes quickly rejected as 'won't work' or 'not interested' without much explanation."
    • It is difficult to comment on what may have been specific circumstances, but if you have felt that your idea was rejected too quickly or without explanation, then please know that this was not intended to be unkind or harsh. There are many ideas and for the sake of efficiency we give minimal reasoning in responding. This is also due to the nature of asynchronous communication where it is hard to tell if an answer is extensive enough to satisfy the question. If you feel that an idea is being rejected rather quickly, you can and should request more explanation. This might lead to a fruitful discussion and a reconsideration.
  3. "Wish we had more time"/ "Wonder if sometimes we go too fast and should go slower to focus on quality and testing more"
  4. "Better supervision in the first two months"
    • Always be sure to reach out to your manager if you feel that you need more guidance. Your peers are a Slack message away.
  5. "Maybe a more competitive salary"
    • From the handbook: "If you are unhappy with anything (your duties, your colleague, your boss, your salary, your location, your computer) please let your boss, or the CEO, know as soon as you realize it. We want to solve problems while they are small."
  6. "A step between review/QA and deployment."
    • Review happens through merge requests, and QA happens as part of the release process. We can't think of anything else at the moment that would not introduce gates that cause delay and inefficiency.
  7. "Off-site meetings during the year and/or team-specific summits, like a hackathon"
    • We had a Summit in Oct'15, and are having one in May'16. We aim to have these every 6-9 months. We are thinking about organizing a hackathon during the Summit; please upvote if you want it to happen!
  8. "We share a lot about our software 'side'; can we share more about our other 'sides' (like how marketing does marketing) in a "team blog"? This would help in hiring awesome people!"
    • We love blog posts and sharing all of GitLab's 'sides'. Please channel your inner need to write a blog post (or part of it!) on our blog repo.
  9. "Additional training for dev people, maybe? Specific suggestions for topics include agile coding, code quality, and there is a suggestion for Robert "Uncle Bob " Marcin (https://sites.google.com/site/unclebobconsultingllc/) for code quality
    • After some research within the team there was a greater interest in a "birds of a feather" gathering than formal training. We're looking to do this during our Summit trip to Austin.
  10. "What features are we planning? See /direction
  11. "How are we doing? How does the Board see it? Can we keep up the growth and the Sales?"
    • Khosla is really happy so far. Keeping up growth depends on demand generation
  12. "If we are sometimes too open and too transparent in a way that hurts us?"
    • So far the only negative thing is that we suspect that competitors release their stuff early to preempt us, we think it is great that they are adjusting their schedule to ours!
  13. "Creating/using a standard for interviewing candidates."
    • Good idea, a lot of us use standard interview questions https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/hiring/#interview-questions but merge requests are welcome.
  14. "More formality in development process."
    • What form of formality? We welcome changes that don't reduce our productivity. Potentially we could start using issue weights more to gauge the load.

"What do you like about working here?"

  1. A lot of love for the team
    • Keywords people used to describe their fellow GitLabbers are: 'talented, caring, teamwork, approachable, honest, frank, smart, brilliant, skilled, team spirit'.
  2. Great product
    • Four people mentioned it specifically, and this one sums it up nicely: "Working on a product that I actually love to use". Respondents also mentioned the fast pace of development.
  3. Open Source
    • Respondents value being involved in Open Source, with phrases such as: 'proving that open source is awesome and working with the rest of the community, working on open source while getting paid for it is a dream job!'
  4. Freedom and opportunity
    • We are a remote-first company and our GitLabbers like: 'being remote-first, working from home, having personal independence, the freedom to choose what to work on, the freedom that you don't get in a corporate office environment, flexibility to get things done, slim process, slack oriented'
    • People also mentioned the opportunity to learn, and the massive opportunity that the project and the company has.
  5. Team dynamic
    • Several people mentioned that they really like the team dynamic, specifically: 'the support that you need is there, you have the ability to take on multiple hats and responsibilities, everyone and everything is open to constant improvement, ability to collaborate even though we're remote, we're remote but still have a great sense of "team", love the cross discipline collaboration that goes on every day'

Feedback from the GitLab team - September 2015

Summarized in this presentation about "Stuff the GitLab team likes and does not like", here is what the team said in September of 2015.

What we love about working at GitLab

Freedom, flexibility, enthusiasm, passion, great, smart, engaging, enjoy teaching, feels like a family, great dynamic, supportive, approachable execs, supportive, transparency, speed of innovation, remote working, company sponsored training, great Summit in Amsterdam.

and also

Great product, ability to create new processes, company growth, no burocracy, no high pressure, opportunity, our growth, the challenge of maintaining quality of people, product, brand etc, laser focus on improving collaboration through social coding, market adoption, our work is public so we can talk about it, and our ability to create new processes.

What we wish we had or what we want to be doing & What we’re doing about it

  1. More GitLabbers.
    • We’re hiring
  2. Bigger feature gap between CE and EE.
    • Current plan is to have one EE feature added per release, so over time the difference will grow.
  3. More summits.
    • Current plan is to have a summit every 6-9 months.
  4. Better onboarding.
    • We're working on this with GitLabUniversity (GLU) content, continuous improvements to documentation and the handbook
  5. Customer success events, starting in the Bay Area.
    • Cool idea, start an issue and make it happen!
  6. Coaching on Agile and Lean approaches for Engineering team.
    • Great idea, we'll look into it. Suggestions are welcome.
  7. A scale with happiness of last work week for feedback.
    • We've working this into our feedback from in a different setting for now.
  8. Global presence of Service Engineers, and dedicated trainer and training materials.
    • We're working on this through hiring. Also, we have high hopes of GLU, ongoing content creation, etc. to help out here.

What we’re wondering about & the answers to our thoughts

  1. Stock options: terms, conditions
    • Does the handbook answer your questions? (https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/stock-options). Please feel free to ask Paul.
  2. What the company will look like 3, 6, 12 months from now? (community-ish, enterprise-ish)
    • The community and people using GitLab will keep growing. 12 months from now we'll answer all questions from the community on all platforms (from forum to Stack Overflow), we 'll have a proper swag shop and have more developer oriented content (blog posts, videos).
    • Enterprise wise we'll have double the features we have now, a twice as large sales team, and many add-ons. Feel free to ask something more specific if you need more detail. And of course try to shape it as you think it should look.
  3. How committed are we to building EE features and having significant releases each month?
    • Very committed. At least one tentpole EE feature every month. Next 3 releases contain 2 or 3 each! https://about.gitlab.com/direction/
  4. Sales team hiring plan
    • We're hiring but it is not a priority until everyone is up to speed and trained. But we expect that to happen soon, and the marketing machine will come up to speed soon, after which hiring becomes a priority.