The Truth

Okay, that title is a bit misleading. I mean, how do you almost co-found one of the most important technology businesses of our time, yet be basically unknown in the technology industry.

Yes, I am just a rat race running, weekend entrepreneur. No, I didn’t exactly “almost” co-found GitHub, but I really do think I had an opportunity to. This is the story of how I missed that opportunity.

The Story

It was about 5 years ago today, and Rails was just beginning to make its now historical mark on the development world. During my research, I came across a blog app written in Rails named Ozimodo. It was one of the first, and especially in the beginning, it was raw.

You’ve got to understand, the Rails community at this time was still new. There were many frustrations still to be had, and there was no GitHub to enable painless collaboration.

I downloaded the source code off of SourceForge, and made some improvements. Today, I would make a Pull Request, my work might be merged, and I would be honored as a committer. So what did I do when I made some improvements to the app? Well, I emailed the developer. And who was this developer? None other than Chris Wanstrath.

I had a couple of app improvements, and I also completely refactored the templates removing the old school table based layouts that Chris was using. In my email I explained that, but Chris wanted to know how I did what I did.

I vividly remember starting to write the reply, then letting something else have my attention. To my dismay, I never finished the email.

I never got to show Chris my skills. I never got to network with him. I never got to learn from him. And then of course, I never got to co-found GitHub with him.

The Moral

Use the tools we have today to show off your work. Fork a hugely important project, and commit something meaningful. Let other developers see your work, get feedback, and learn from them. It’s now easier than ever, and you never know what that commit might lead to. A new job, a resume bullet point, or maybe a future business partner.