Remote company spotlight: GitLab

Posted on February 12, 2018 by Filip Defar

It’s more than likely that you’ve heard about GitLab, an open source application for Git repository management and code collaboration. But did you know that behind it is one of the most successful fully remote companies in the world?

GitLab is proud to be a remote-only company with more than 150 employees working from 37 countries. They are an authority on remote work and have even released The Remote Manifesto.

Even though they have grown into a large company, they still maintain a friendly startup culture. Among their main values they list transparency, freedom, directness, kindness, diversity and quirkiness.

Unexpected and unconventional things make life more interesting. Celebrate and encourage quirky gifts, habits, behavior, and points of view. An example is our team call where we spend most of our time talking about what we did in our private lives, from fire-throwing to knitting.Quote

And given we’re on the subject of quirkiness, I have to mention that GitLab officially has 40 pets working in the team. Another amazing thing is the #thanks channel on their slack. Working in a remote team can be quite lonely and isolating, putting importance on small things that help team members bond will help you keep your motivation (and sanity) long-term.

But wait, if GitLab is an open source project, how does the company make money?

GitLab has an open core business model, this means their product is split into ‘community’ and ‘enterprise’ editions. The Enterprise Edition includes additional features and provides technical support. The concept of open core software is controversial and a lot of people feel that it clashes with open source principles. GitLab is aware of this and does it’s best to balance the need to generate income with the needs of the open source project. They’ve even published a set of promises which they intend to keep.

The application itself is written in the Ruby programming language, and for back-end engineering positions a significant amount of experience in Ruby is a hard requirement. This is a somewhat recent change in their hiring policy that has been explained here:

A developer with a lot of experience in, say, Python and Django could potentially become equally proficient in Ruby and Rails in a few months, but we don’t have the capacity to actively train them, and we’d be taking a far larger risk than with someone who already has proven they can do Ruby and Rails well.Quote

The interviewing process itself is quite unorthodox. In the technical interview, you will work on an issue from the GitLab Community Edition in a screen sharing session with the interviewer, and code 'live'. Afterward, you will be asked to finish the feature. After a few rounds of reviews, the code you’ve written will be merged and used by millions of developers using this free, open-source product.

If you’re not a software engineer, you’re not out of luck either. Job opportunities at GitLab are not exclusively technical. Check out their jobs page for more details.

GitLab’s Glassdoor account maintains an amazing 4.8 score with all shining reviews.

Overall GitLab seems like a great company to work for. They are a fully remote company with a friendly culture, flexible work hours and provide the opportunity to work on an open source project. What more could you ask for?

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