GitHub Co-Founder Suspended, Accused Of Intimidation

The softwazre development hosting service GitHub has suspended one of its co-founders, after designer and developer Julie Horvath resigned from the company while publicly complaining about being harassed by the company’s leadership.

Horvath later demanded for two men, including a former colleague, to step down.

“We know we have to take action and have begun a full investigation. While that’s ongoing, and effective immediately, the relevant founder has been put on leave, as has the referenced GitHub engineer,” said Chris Wanstrath, GitHub co-founder and CEO.

The company has also made the decision to ban the wife of the unnamed co-founder, who allegedly tried to intimidate Horvath, from visiting GitHub offices.

Hell hath no fury

GitHub, co-founded by Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath, and PJ Hyett in 2008, is a cloud-based hosting service for software development that uses the Git revision control system. Git was originally created by Linus Torvalds to manage the work on the Linux Kernel, but has since become an industry standard for open source projects.

On Saturday, Horvath took to Twitter to express her dissatisfaction with GitHub and announce she was quitting her job at the company.

The developer later told TechCrunch she always felt like she was treated differently because of her gender. But the real problems started after an informal conversation with a co-founder’s wife, who allegedly told Horvath she was “pulling the strings” and had an impact on the decisions made at GitHub. The developer was later invited to a meeting with HR to discuss this conversation.

In the following meetings, Horvath’s relationship with the management grew increasingly tense, culminating in an argument with the co-founder that left her in tears. While this was taking place, she also had to rebuff the advances of a co-worker, who then started “ripping out” her code from projects that both of them were working on.

In a post on the GitHub blog, Wanstrath apologised to Horvath and said that the company brought in a new HR Lead in January to disarm exactly these types of situations.

“We still have work to do. We know that. However, making sure GitHub employees are getting the right feedback and have a safe way to voice their concerns is a primary focus of the company.” said the CEO. Wanstrath also thanked Horvath for her contributions to the company, and wished her luck in her future projects.

Since GitHub has just three co-founders and Wanstrath handled the apology, it is obvious that the man described by Horvath was either Preston-Werner or Hyett. But to find out more, we’ll have to wait for the outcome of the internal investigation.

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Max Smolaks

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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  • GitHub is a non-free webapp built on a free program, git. GitHub doesn't distribute source code for their webapp. Use something else instead, like GNU Savannah or Gitorious.

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