Summary:

It started off as a hobby project, before its team realized it was being used — in unexpected ways — by the likes of Bank of America. Now RhodeCode wants to do for code management what MySQL did for databases.

RhodeCode

Chances are you’ve never heard of the source code management (SCM) platform RhodeCode, a rival to the likes of GitHub, BitBucket and Google Code. But that may soon change, as the company wants to emulate what MySQL achieved in the database market: making a big impact in the enterprise with a disruptive open-source product.

Berlin-based RhodeCode is actually off to a flying start. Despite its low profile, it already has 150,000 installations already under its belt – implying a far greater number of actual users. Its product is used in an impressive roster of companies ranging from Oracle and Samsung to BMW and Bank of America. And what’s more, these firms aren’t just using it for collaborative source code editing.

Not just for developers

“RhodeCode has existed since 2010 – it started more like a hobby, then it exploded,” CEO Sebastian Kreutzberger (former CTO at Wunderlist firm 6Wunderkinder) told me.

“We began getting requests for support … we didn’t know it, but we learned that for example at Bank of America or at Unity, more than 3,000 employees are actually using it. RhodeCode is something where you can collaboratively work on files – something like a wiki for files, but also with versioning. We thought it was more for developers, but in interviewing we learned whole departments are using RhodeCode, especially legal departments, because they could work on the files with versioning, comments on changes and so on.”

This adaptability seems to have been key to RhodeCode’s unexpected adoption levels – because it is open source, it can be freely adapted to suit a variety of business processes. And now that the company has realized what it’s sitting on, it’s decided to move into the money-making phase.

RhodeCode Enterprise

RhodeCode started off as a product that users can install on their own servers, but a few weeks ago the company launched a hosted version. Now, with the release of RhodeCode version 2.0 on Wednesday, it’s trying to make the distinction clear by calling the hosted version “RhodeCode” and the installable version “RhodeCode Enterprise”.

RhodeCode Enterprise is, in line with its open-source nature, free to use for teams of up to 20 users. Even as a paid-for product, though, it is very competitive – a team of 40, for example, will pay $588 a year with RhodeCode, and $10,000 a year with GitHub Enterprise.

“We decided against what MySQL for example did – in the end they had an open core approach where you get the domain features for free, but if you want special stuff you have to pay,” Kreuzberger said. “If you download RhodeCode Enterprise for free, you get the same think the Bank of America would pay for, but you only have to pay if you use it in a bigger team.”

RhodeCode only started talking to its big enterprise customers a few months ago and, based on their feedback, it tweaked its user interface and its licensing model, making it possible to offer dedicated support. It’s already pulling in €20,000-€30,000 ($27,000-$40,000) a month for this, and it’s barely gotten started.

Further revenue will probably also come from RhodeCode’s hosted version, for which there is no free version (starting price: $19 a month for up to 3 users). There, the company is – surprise, surprise – touting the fact that it uses dedicated servers that are based in Germany. “A lot of companies in Europe have issues about using U.S. services, and a lot of big companies have internal regulations that they’re not allowed to use U.S.-hosted applications,” Kreuzberger pointed out.

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