Tuesday, January 17, 2017

GitHub Growth Appears Scale Free

Update of Thursday, August 17, 2017: It's looks like we can chalk up another one for the scale-free model (described below) as Github apparently surpasses 20 million users. Outgoing CEO Wanstrath mentioned this number in an emailed statement to Business Insider.
"As GitHub approaches 700 employees, with more than $200M in ARR, accelerating growth, and more than 20 million registered users, I'm confident that this is the moment to find a new CEO to lead us into the next stage of growth. ....."

The Original Analysis

In 2013, a Redmonk blogger claimed that the growth of GitHub (GH) users follows a certain type of diffusion model called Bass diffusion. Here, growth refers to the number of unique user IDs as a function of time, not the number project repositories, which can have a high degree of multiplicity.

In a response, I tweeted a plot that suggested GH growth might be following a power law, aka scale free growth. The tell-tale sign is the asymptotic linearity of the growth data on double-log axes, which the original blog post did not discuss. The periods on the x-axis correspond to years, with the first period representing calendar year 2008 and the fifth period being the year 2012.