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VMBlog Expert Interview: Aaron Upright, co-founder of Zenhub, talks about Developer Happiness and its impact on business productivity


In this VMblog expert interview, we spoke with Aaron Upright, the co-founder of Zenhub, to learn more about developer happiness and its impact on business productivity.

VMblog:  Before we get into the news, can you give us some basic info on Zenhub and what it does?

Aaron Upright: Zenhub actually started as an internal solution at an innovation studio called Axiom Zen, which is also famous for starting Dapper Labs, the creators of CryptoKitties and NBA TopShot. In brief, Zenhub enables software teams at high-growth organizations like startups and scale-ups to build better code faster with its developer-friendly productivity and project management platform. Historically, Zenhub has been used to dramatically boost collaboration and coordination for teams working in GitHub with automated agile features, real-time roadmap visibility, and team productivity insights. More than 8,000 disruptive software teams worldwide rely on Zenhub to ship great code faster.

VMblog:  Now for the news ... what are you announcing today?

Upright: The most exciting aspect of our news is really our new Zenhub Issues functionality. This feature takes everything we've done for software teams in GitHub in terms of collaboration, productivity, and more, and delivers those capabilities throughout the entire organization. This has been something our customers have been increasingly asking for, since today, every company has truly become a software company. That means the status of their code base is of relevance to a lot more stakeholders than just the development team. As software has become mission-critical to almost every modern organization, more stakeholders than ever are now involved in the process of developing software and bringing that software to market. As our CEO so often says, "software development is increasingly becoming a team sport." Zenhub now enables everyone on the team to participate in its development.

This is a fundamentally different way of looking at how teams collaborate on software projects. With that in mind, we're also announcing a new round of fundraising to give us the resources we need to continue to pioneer this evolution. We are pleased to say we raised a $10 million Series A round of financing.

VMblog:  What makes this approach different from other software development platforms?

Upright: Zenhub is unique in that it got its start as one of the first solutions to make it possible for software teams to manage projects entirely within GitHub. We took that approach because, unlike other project management platforms that "pull" developers from their core mission - writing code - to track work in some other system, Zenhub brings the rest of the business to where the developers are working. This is because we strongly believe that software should be at the center of every modern business today.

However, while GitHub remains a natural place for developers to work, it's often viewed as an unapproachable platform for non-technical team members and external collaborators. As more and more of these non-technical stakeholders become involved in the development process, this represents a significant challenge for organizations. At the same time, organizations are becoming increasingly more security conscious, and leaders are significantly limiting who has access to GitHub.

Zenhub Issues solves both challenges by allowing non-technical users to create issues, tasks, and track projects in Zenhub without requiring a GitHub account. As a result, organizations realize far greater security, as non-tech team members don't have to have access to GitHub. They also are saving significant money since companies no longer need to pay for GitHub licenses for those team members that don't really need to touch the code. Finally, it really allows companies to consolidate the number of collaboration tools they're using, making everyone's lives easier.

VMblog:  Why would non-technical team members be interested in software development progress?

Upright: Now that most companies have transitioned to having software as a critical component of their core competence, more people at these organizations want to understand what's happening with these important projects. Not only do executives, marketing personnel, and sales personnel want to know what's happening, but there is a great deal of potential collaboration with external stakeholders, such as service clients, customers, and even contractors. This is a fundamental shift within the industry, but one that has happened very rapidly over the last two years. You could even potentially have an HR request, signaling the need for additional people power to complete a project. Everyone can be given access to Zenhub Issues without needing access to the underlying GitHub repos.

VMblog:  What more can we expect from Zenhub in the coming months?

Upright: I think you can expect us to leverage our new resources to further expand the company's global footprint, but also to continue to bring our approach to collaboration to a much broader set of users. As I had written earlier, we started out fully integrated into GitHub, but today we're taking our first steps beyond GitHub to extend Zenhub to the entire organization. I think you can expect us to continue down this path to make Zenhub's experience work with as many audiences as possible. That may include other platforms like GitLab. It's very exciting! Definitely "watch this space" as we will have more advances being launched in the coming months. No matter what, you can be sure that we will stay true to our core mission; building the most developer-friendly project management solution on the market.


Published Thursday, March 09, 2023 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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