20. GitHub

Coders dream

Chris Wanstrath, co-founder and CEO of GitHub
Source: Github
Chris Wanstrath, co-founder and CEO of GitHub

Founders: Tom Preston-Werner, PJ Hyett, Chris Wanstrath
Date launched: 2008
Funding: $100 million
Industries disrupted: Business services, consulting, IT

GitHub, a site that hosts code for programmers, has been run through the gauntlet lately. In March the San Francisco-based company was the target of a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS). The attack, reportedly originating from the Chinese government, targeted sites hosted by GitHub that provided links to sites blocked in China, including the New York Times. The attacks have subsided, and the company assures users that everything is operating normally.

Read MoreFULL LIST: 2015 DISRUPTOR 50

All this proves that GitHub is becoming the 800-pound gorilla in "version control"—the process by which all changes to a piece of computer code is logged and tracked. With GitHub, any developer working on a piece of code has full access to it and can make improvements. The company's version-control system was built around a piece of software named Git—a British slang word referring to a foolish person—created in 2005 by Linux developer Linus Torvalds.

Today the company has more than 9 million users working on 22 million projects in nearly every program language, and it has attracted $100 million in venture capital from Andreessen Horowitz and SV Angel.

"Over 9 million people use GitHub to build amazing things together, and we’ve made our way into industries that haven't previously been thought of as software-focused, like health care, education and government. Just a few years ago, there was no central site for software projects. Today, GitHub is how software is built." -Chris Wanstrath, co-founder and CEO, GitHub

Latest Special Reports

  • Financial Portfolio

    A look at how leading portfolio managers and institutional investors build investment plans to meet clients’ goals.

  • The CNBC All-America Economic Survey shows bright spots in the economy, with housing and stocks in the forefront.

  • Watch investments

    Covering the full set of tools and strategies for long-term investors: How to take everyday market fluctuations in stride, and when to know it’s time to take action or protect against a major economic shifts.

Technology