The independent company will help drive adoption of the GitLab complete DevOps platform in China and foster the GitLab community and open source contributions.
GitLab Inc. licensed its technology to an independent Chinese company (JiHu) to provide China-based enterprises with a single application for all stages of their software development lifecycle (SDLC). Investors in this new company include Sequoia CBC and Gaocheng Capital.
GitLab Information Technology (Hubei) Co., Ltd. (JiHu, pronounced "G Who") will operate as a separate company with full autonomy over its own governance structure, management team and CEO, and business support functions including Engineering, Sales, Marketing, Finance, Legal, HR, and Customer Support. JiHu will provide a specific Chinese distribution of GitLab's DevOps platform available as both a self-managed and SaaS offering (GitLab.cn) that is constantly updated, has readily accessible features, and tailored software for Chinese companies. JiHu's SaaS service (GitLab.cn) and GitLab Inc.'s SaaS service (GitLab.com) will share no common infrastructure, networking connectivity, systems, services, data, or resources.
Our current China market presence
In China, GitLab's complete DevOps platform has several million users and many notable local corporations.
Up until now, GitLab's self-managed version was available to customers in China through a network of resellers and system integrators. Due to local licensing requirements, GitLab's SaaS version was not available through the network of resellers and system integrators. There may be a variety of unsupported forks of GitLab's SaaS offering being used throughout China by other parties without GitLab's approval, but those are older, unsupported, and out-of-date versions of GitLab.
Moving forward, Chinese companies will be able to work directly with JiHu to implement a locally supported GitLab DevOps solution to deliver their products to market faster. JiHu will ensure GitLab's SaaS and self-managed products are supported, automatically updated, and tailored for Chinese companies.
Why spin off a new company?
The developer community in China is growing fast. According to Statista, much of the projected developer growth is expected to occur in China, where the growth rate is between 6-8% heading up to 2023. Also, Gartner's 2019 Hype Cycle for ICT in China estimates that DevOps currently has a 5-20% penetration of the target audience though it sees the technology as "transformational."
Considering the lack of a locally based company, which constrains the growth of GitLab the DevOps platform in China, combined with the forked versions of the product that are out of date and not supported by GitLab, it made sense to evaluate the market potential for an independent, locally managed China-based offering.
JiHu was inspired by Sequoia Broadband's JV 3.0 model, which is a model that integrates and leverages the power of Silicon Valley technology and the speed of business in China and has successfully launched a number of other independent companies in China. According to Sequoia CBC, JiHu will be the first Chinese technology company with foreign leading technology and exclusive brand licenses entering the Chinese market under the framework of "Sino-foreign joint venture 3.0."
By licensing GitLab's technology to an entirely independent and local China-based company, JiHu will be focused on Chinese customer needs, follow local government compliance, encourage community contributions, and help make software development faster and better in China. JiHu can offer a superior solution to alternatives in the Chinese market – many of whom work off of old, unsupported GitLab forks.
GitLab's investment and involvement in JiHu
GitLab Inc. has licensed its technology and brand to JiHu to use to serve the Chinese market. GitLab's investment is in licensing the code to the new company – there is no financial capital investment from GitLab Inc.
While GitLab Inc., Sequoia CBC, and Gaocheng Capital are all investors in JiHu, the company is and will function as an independent company with its own governance structure, management team and CEO, and business support functions including Engineering, Sales, Marketing, Finance, Legal, HR, and Customer Support.
JiHu will provide GitLab's DevOps platform as both a self-managed and SaaS offering hosted in China (via GitLab.cn) that is specifically tailored for the Chinese market. The GitLab.cn application will be completely disconnected and isolated from GitLab.com – it will share no common infrastructure, systems, services, data, or resources.
While GitLab Inc. is the inspiration for JiHu, it is its own company and can adjust as needed for the local market.
Open source community
Providing GitLab to the Chinese market will grow the open source community in China. JiHu will engage with the open source community in China and encourage contributions upstream. All incremental contributions from JiHu to CE (Community Edition) and EE (Enterprise Edition) will be upstreamed as merge requests to GitLab Inc.'s maintainers for enhanced security review prior to acceptance.
GitLab and JiHu will use two separate repositories, where GitLab's repository will be upstream and JiHu's repository will be downstream. Changes to GitLab CE (Community Edition) and EE (Enterprise Edition) will be one-way mirrored to the JiHu Edition, however, changes to the JiHu Edition will not be mirrored back to GitLab CE and EE.
Instead of mirroring, JiHu will be able to contribute to CE and EE by following the same meticulous protocols we already have in place for all other contributors. Each contribution must meet our rigorous standards for security and code quality prior to being added to the GitLab application.
GitLab believes that everyone can contribute and with the addition of JiHu to the Chinese market we believe that there will be a global benefit and even more contributions.
There will be three distributions of the GitLab product: CE (Community Edition), EE (Enterprise Edition), and JH (JiHu Edition). The CE distribution will continue to be available globally. The EE distribution will only be sold outside China. The JH distribution will only be sold in China.
As an independent company, JiHu will manage its own technologies and infrastructure. JiHu's SaaS service (GitLab.cn) and GitLab Inc.'s SaaS service (GitLab.com) will share no common infrastructure, networking connectivity, systems, services, data, or resources.
GitLab Inc. will continue to closely adhere to existing security protocols and will augment those safeguards with additional protections as appropriate. Further in-depth details on security measures can be found in our FAQ.
We've taken the liberty of trying to anticipate some of the questions that many of you may have and answering them here.