In our next news series, we look at examples of brilliant Ukrainian startups that have received funding and found success in international markets.
Founders: Dmitry Zaporozhets and Sid Sibrandji
Company Valuation: $2.8 billion
Total Funding: $436.2 million
Employees: 1309 (in 67 countries)
Founded In: 2011
Unicorn: from 2018
GitLab is a DevOps platform built as a single data warehouse for software development and workflow integration to ensure product quality. GitLab helps teams reduce development costs by increasing developer productivity.
In 2011, the first founder of the startup – Dmytro Zaporozhets, as a professional developer, needed a convenient tool that could be installed on his servers while being cheaper than a service like GitHub. Dmytro came up with an open-source product for storing git repositories, which he embodied in a fully open product. In two years, it was divided into a version for the development community, and for companies.
“Our idea is for the developer to come to work in the morning, open GitLab – and not require any other products. Everything from chatting to deployment takes place on our platform. We want to cover the full range of development and operations. From issue trackers, planning, road maps, development, management – and to packaging in containers, release, and monitoring. We have gone beyond simply competing with GitHub a long time ago” – says Dmytro. Today the main competitors of the cloud platform are Microsoft GitHub and Bitbucket from Atlassian.
In 2013, a second founder and investor joined GitLab – Dutch entrepreneur Sid Sibranji, interested in making Dmytro’s idea into a SaaS platform. The two founders began to implement their plans, and in 2015, their employee count increased from 10 to 50, and monthly income increased by 60%. At an early stage, the company was offered to buy competitors 10 times more expensive than the turnover of GitLab at the time.
In 2014, Sid and Dmytro went to the United States and applied to Y Combinator, a business incubator in California. Y Combinator selects the most breakthrough and promising technology companies from around the world, invests a relatively small amount in startups (about $120 thousand), and receives a share in them. Y Combinator has helped launch several successful startups such as Reddit, Twitch, Cruise Automation, Dropbox, Airbnb, Coinbase, and Stripe. The total market value of all supported companies is $80 billion. After participating in this prestigious accelerator and great press in TechCrunch, Fortune and Forbes, GitLab’s business began to grow rapidly. What is really fascinating is how the startup has repeatedly received investment for five years in a row.
In 2015, GitLab raised $1.5 million from investors such as 500 Startups, CrunchFund, Sound Ventures by Ashton Kutcher, Liquid 2 Ventures, and Khosla Ventures. Later in Round A, Khosla Ventures provided another $4 million to the company. In 2016, the startup received a $ 20 million B-series investment from August Capital, Khosla Ventures, and Y Combinator. In 2017, as part of Round C, GitLab raised $ 20 million, with GV as the leading investor. In the 2018 round D, the startup was valued at $1.1 billion and received the status of “Unicorn”, attracting $ 100 million from Iconiq Capital, GV, and Khosla Ventures. Last year, GitLab was valued at $2.7 billion, and in the E-Series, the company raised $ 268 million, with Goldman Sachs, Iconiq Capital, and Y Combinator venture capital as investors. It should be noted that there are no Ukrainian companies and funds among the investors in GitLab.
GitLab works with a growing community of thousands of developers and millions of users to continually deliver new DevOps innovations. The company currently has about 100,000 corporate clients, including Ask Media Group, Charter Communication, Delta Air Lines, Goldman Sachs, NASA, Nasdaq, Interpol, and others. The company’s achievements include accumulating the largest number of employees working remotely, and as of 2020 the startup has 1,309 people working from 67 countries of the world. Additionally, this year Dmytro Zaporozhets, according to Forbes, took 13th place among the richest businessmen in Ukraine.
GitLab plans to build an all-in-one platform that meets all developer needs and eliminates the need to integrate various services such as Jira, GitHub, New Relic, and BlackDuck. The startup will use the money raised in the last round to create all the functions of the platform, including monitoring, security, and planning, while being the “best in their field”. Among the biggest goals for GitLab in 2020 is to go public, which will allow the company to accumulate resources for even greater development.
In further publications, we will focus on successful Ukrainian startups that were able to create a quality product and an effective team. We will learn how their ideas come about, how to choose the right partners, and find the first investment. The next company will be Petcube – a smart gadget for pets.