Bonum Certa Men Certa

GitLab the Company, Just Like GitHub (Now Part of Microsoft, Going Through Several Rounds of Layoffs This Year, Even Office Shutdowns), is Sinking Deep Into Debt and Showing the Risk of Outsourcing

Video download link | md5sum f61ec70272c7d04fdf6f006ec21bc29a Serfs and Sharecropping With Git Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: 'Free' hosting for Git may not be a viable business plan; be wary and careful not to offload creative work to debt-saddled firms (that work being text, code, videos etc.)

THIS post is related to the trend of digital sharecropping we often allude to in the context of social control media such as Twitter or Diaspora or the Fediverse. Many people still live in a fantasy land wherein the Web is full of 'free' services ripe for exploitation. As the old saying goes, there's no free lunch* and anything that seems free may in fact be temporarily free (grace period, sometimes for market penetration and vendor lock-in).

This post will focus on GitLab as an example, but we're not singling out GitLab. There are many others like it, including Clownflare.

"Git is Free software. Some of the Web interface suites are not."Remember that Clownflare is not free. Clownflare is a trap. It's also a cancer on the World Wide Web.

Self-hosting isn't a matter of "making a point". It's a principled and practical decision based on pragmatism. Some people will never learn until they're betrayed time and time again, forced to restart from scratch over and over (ad infinitum**).

Git is Free software. Some of the Web interface suites are not. Some are a hybrid of sorts. Some are purely proprietary, e.g. GitHub. Microsoft is trying to pull an E.E.E. on Git, with stuff like the github/gh command along with proprietary extensions at the Web level and editors' level. Be sceptical of Trojan horses.

Let's examine the situation of GitLab as a company (not GitLab the software):

Notice how quickly debt is growing

GitLab Net Income 2021-2023
Income in the red

GitLab shares
GitLab shares over-inflate the
'worth' of this company (not a unique problem)

The short story is, GitLab took ~1,200 million dollar in debt this year while laying off staff. GitLab has a fictional market cap of 7.40B for a company in debt and which cannot make money (losing hundreds of millions each year; number of employees in 2023 is 2,170 and losses per head about $100,000 per annum). It's like Twitter Junior.

"GitHub had two rounds of layoffs so far this year."It's probably the same with GitHub's losses (debt too), but Microsoft does not break down the numbers that way. GitHub had two rounds of layoffs so far this year.

As per this report, published months ago: "investor one-year losses grow to 54% as the stock sheds US$1.4b this past week..."

It says "GitLab didn't make a profit in the last twelve months," further complicating the prospect of a turnaround. No wonder they wanted to just raise more money instead of making money. No wonder GitLab wanted to shut down 'inactive' repos, but stopped only due to mass uproar, which people won't forget (it's not free hosting, it's a trap).

"We cannot help but wonder about sourcehut."Just how much money does Microsoft lose on GitHub each year? Has Microsoft loaded debt onto its subsidiaries to hide deficits? Again, just as a reminder, this past February Microsoft GitHub laid off 10% and then it went further, closing down entire offices and firing entire teams, even in India. GitHub is a money sink. With hiring freeze in place, maybe GitHub got rid of 30% of its staff since the start of this year. GitHub is not doing well.

We cannot help but wonder about sourcehut. They too mass-deleted some Git repos and introduced new demands for payments (to keep some repos online). "That's a smaller shop," one reader explains. "Again there is a problem with growth of storage costs, like with YouTube or Wikipedia, but flat income."

So the take-home message is, if you use Git, roll out your own. Don't rely on others to do it for you 'for free'. They stand to lose money, so it won't last forever. Some exchange control for 'gratis', or in other words take away your freedom/autonomy for a freebie.

"The costs of running YouTube go up, not down, just like Twitter."Now, to use the example of video, the other night we shared this alarming video about YouTube. YouTube is one of the next Twitters. It cannot make money. It can only put off both creators and audiences. So what will happen next? Mass layoffs? That did not work for Twitter. Rebrand? Also did not work for Twitter. What's the "grand plan"?

The costs of running YouTube go up, not down, just like Twitter. Bloat and data storage, more "moderation" staff etc. YouTube has not reported whether it makes money... since 2015. So we can safely assume something is very wrong. Because YouTube is not making money (same as GitHub/GitLab). So it's hiding that and only talks of "revenue" (while defrauding the advertisers... clickfraud and such). As a last resort, courtesy of new management who realise they cannot make money, now they "steal" from creators. What message does that send?

A critic with bad experiences (learning from mistakes made in the past) can promptly point out the importance of self-hosting. Separation is also worthwhile (the video above mentions examples). The bug-tracking is integrated into some of the above Web interfaces, but that is a complexity that might make it worth separating, not outsourcing. For tracking of issues/bugs/incidents/wishlists one can use RT, Mantis, Bugzilla, Trac, Landscape, OTRS and maybe even Jira (I once installed it on a home machine from the 1990s and it worked, albeit slowly). I've had hands-on experience with most of these, also as the administrator. They're simpler to manage than Git. The learning curve is worthwhile. ____ * A related saying is: "If you're not paying for the product, you are the product!"

** One could point out the folly of building digital structures on properties which can vanish overnight because they are owned by and controlled by others and probably without overlapping priorities.

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