Inspired by GitHub

I wrote a post the other day called This For That in which I suggestred that derivative ideas are challenging to execute on and equally challenging for USV to get excited about. But there are exceptions. And Github insipired ideas are one particularly interesting area to us.

I recall when Steve Martocci came to talk to us about Splice. He talked about watching musicians work and wondering why there was nothing like GitHub for them to use to store the various versions of their work. That, of course, led to Splice. And one could call Splice “GitHub for Music”. It is a lot more than that, of course, because building GitHub for Music opens up a lot of opportunities to do more for musicians. As GitHub did for programmers.

Yesterday, my partner Andy posted this link on usv.com. It’s a story about a one time programmer who left software for the world of molecular biology and after a decade in the world of academic research, is leaving to do a startup which is, not surprisingly, GitHub for Life Science Protocols. You can back his Kickstarter here. I just did.

When programmers who are used to modern tools and techniques come across other industries where the tools are antiquated and the work is frustrating, they get inspired to create similar tools to make life easier. That’s happening in a lot of sectors now, not just music and life sciences.

The power of the GitHub model is not just a repository of work and version control in the cloud. It’s the public nature of much of that work. And the reputation and identity effects for those who publish some or all of their work publicly.

Tools like StackOverflow (a USV portfolio company) and GitHub allow programmers to see how other programmers have solved similar problems. I was at a hackathon up at Columbia University last weekend and one of the hacks was a development environment that automatically queried StackOverflow and GitHub as you are writing code so that you always have in front of you the answers to the questions you are most likely to ask. The developer who did the hack introduced it by saying something like “programming these days is more about searching than anything else”. That reflects how collaborative the sharing of knowledge has become in the world of software development as a result of these cloud based tools for developers.

And this approach will naturally be adopted by other industries. And the entrepreneurs who bring these tools to other industries will most likely be developers who are inspired by GitHub and StackOverflow and tools like that. We are starting to see that in lots of interesting places.