Thomas Preston-Werner (born May 27, 1979) is an American billionaire software developer and entrepreneur. He is an active contributor within the free and open-source software community, most prominently in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lives.

Tom Preston-Werner
Preston-Werner in July 2013
Born (1979-05-27) May 27, 1979 (age 44)
Alma materHarvey Mudd College (dropped out)
Occupation(s)Software developer, entrepreneur
Years active2008–present
TitleCo-founder & former CEO, GitHub
PredecessorChris Wanstrath
SuccessorChris Wanstrath
SpouseTheresa Preston-Werner[1][2]

He is best known as the founder and former CEO of GitHub, a Git repository web-based hosting service, which he co-founded in 2008 with Chris Wanstrath and P. J. Hyett.[3] He resigned from GitHub in 2014 when an internal investigation concluded that he and his wife harassed an employee.[4] Preston-Werner is also the creator of the avatar service Gravatar,[5] the TOML configuration file format,[6] the static site generator software Jekyll,[7][8] and the Semantic Versioning Specification (SemVer).[9] As of 2023, he and his wife have committed to The Giving Pledge—a promise give away or donate a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.[10]

Early life edit

Preston-Werner grew up in Dubuque, Iowa. His father died when he was a child. His mother was a teacher and his stepfather was an engineer.[11]

He graduated from high school at Dubuque Senior High School and attended Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California for 2 years before dropping out to pursue other endeavours.[11]

Influence edit

As an active contributor to the open-source developer and hacker culture, most prominently in areas involving the programming language Ruby,[12] he has written articles regarding his philosophies and opinions on various issues. He has been featured as a guest on podcasts, including Rubyology and SitePoint.[13]

Preston was one of the initial members of the San Francisco group IcanhazRuby or ICHR[when?], after he became a regular member of the San Francisco Ruby Meetups. He continued until the meetings became overwhelmed by venture capital investors searching for talent; this prompted him to seek more private gatherings.[12]

Preston-Werner is the creator of the TOML configuration file format.[14]

Career edit

In an article published by Hacker Monthly in 2010, Preston wrote about his passion for ensuring that developers document the code they write so others can easily understand how it works.[15]

In 2004, Preston-Werner founded Gravatar, a service for providing globally unique avatars that follow users from site to site. Preston-Werner sold the company to Automattic in 2007.[16] In 2005 he moved to San Francisco to work at Powerset, a natural language search engine. Powerset was acquired by Microsoft. Preston-Werner declined a $300,000 bonus and stock options from Microsoft so that he could focus on GitHub.[11]

GitHub edit

Preston-Werner co-founded GitHub in 2008 with Chris Wanstrath, P. J. Hyett and Scott Chacon, as a place to share and collaborate on code.[17]

In 2010, Preston-Werner read a comment on Twitter insulting the quality of GitHub's search function. This prompted him to overhaul the service's search, drawing on his experience having worked at Powerset.[12]

Resignation from GitHub edit

Julie Ann Horvath, a GitHub programmer, alleged in March 2014 that Tom Preston-Werner and his wife Theresa had engaged in a pattern of harassment against her that led her to leave the company.[18][19] GitHub initially denied Horvath's allegations,[20][21][22] then following an internal investigation, confirmed some of the claims. Preston-Werner resigned. GitHub's new CEO Chris Wanstrath said the "investigation found Tom Preston-Werner in his capacity as GitHub's CEO acted inappropriately, including confrontational conduct, disregard of workplace complaints, insensitivity to the impact of his spouse's presence in the workplace, and failure to enforce an agreement that his spouse should not work in the office."[4]

After GitHub edit

Following his resignation from GitHub, Preston-Werner sold his shares in the company to Microsoft.[23] Along with a team of former GitHub co-founders and executives, Preston-Werner then cofounded Chatterbug, a software for language-learning.[24] In 2018, Chatterbug cofounder Scott Chacon announced an $8 million (~$9.23 million in 2022) series A funding round for the company, financed by himself and Preston-Werner.[25] Preston-Werner, a hacker himself, has hosted AMA-style events for student hackers, such as for Hack Club,[26] at the Def Hacks Virtual 2020 hackathon, and Dubhacks 2020.[27][28][29]

Personal life edit

Preston-Werner lives in San Francisco with his wife Theresa and their sons.[1][5]

His wife is a former graduate student in cultural anthropology known for her involvement in historical research and social subjects.[30][31]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Deamicis, Carmel (February 7, 2014). "This year at the Crunchies: Class tensions and tech-charity". PandoDaily. Archived from the original on December 6, 2020. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  2. ^ Preston-Werner, Tom (October 18, 2008). "How I Turned Down $300,000 from Microsoft to go Full-Time on GitHub". Tom Preston-Werner. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  3. ^ Etherington, Darrell (January 21, 2014). "GitHub President Becomes CEO, CEO Becomes President In Executive Role Swap". TechCrunch. AOL. GitHub has just announced that co-founder Tom Preston-Werner will be taking over the role of President from fellow co-founder Chris Wanstrath
  4. ^ a b "Follow up to the investigation results". GitHub. April 28, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Tom Preston-Werner". Bloomberg Link. Bloomberg. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  6. ^ "GitHub - toml-lang/toml: Tom's Obvious, Minimal Language". GitHub. September 26, 2021.
  7. ^ Assar, Vijith (August 7, 2013). "The Software That Builds Software". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  8. ^ Orsini, Lauren (April 21, 2014). "What Tom Preston-Werner's Departure Means For GitHub". ReadWrite. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  9. ^ Preston-Werner, Tom. "Semantic Versioning 2.0.0". Semantic Versioning. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  10. ^ "Tom and Theresa Preston-Werner - the Giving Pledge".
  11. ^ a b c Bourne, Will (February 27, 2013). "2 Reasons to Keep an Eye on GitHub". Inc. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  12. ^ a b c Randall Thomas (February 5, 2011). "S01E09: Tom Preston-Werner" (MP3). Engine Yard (Podcast) (Cloud Out Loud ed.). Event occurs at 42:35. Retrieved October 21, 2014. The Ruby community and the way the Ruby community interacts is always kind of my model for how it should be done.
  13. ^ Simoneau, Louis (April 9, 2011). "SitePoint Podcast #107: Social Coding with GitHub's Tom Preston-Werner". SitePoint. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  14. ^ "TOML, Tom's Own Markup Language". Y Combinator Link. Y Combinator. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  15. ^ Preston-Werner, Tom (October 2010). "Readme Driven Development" (PDF). Hacker Monthly (5): 22. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  16. ^ Aamoth, Doug (October 17, 2007). "Automattic Acquires Gravatar". TechCrunch. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
  17. ^ McMillan, Robert (February 21, 2012). "Lord of the Files: How GitHub Tamed Free Software (And More)". Wired. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
  18. ^ Wilhelm, Alex (March 16, 2014). "Julie Ann Horvath Describes Sexism And Intimidation Behind Her GitHub Exit – TechCrunch".
  19. ^ Biddle, Sam; Tiku, Nitasha (March 17, 2014). "Meet the Married Duo Behind Tech's Biggest New Harassment Scandal". Vallywag. Gawker. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  20. ^ Wanstrath, Chris (April 21, 2014). "Results of the GitHub Investigation". The GitHub Blog.
  21. ^ Miller, Claire Cain (April 21, 2014). "GitHub Founder Resigns After Investigation". Bits. The New York Times.
  22. ^ Wilhelm, Alex (April 21, 2014). "GitHub Denies Allegations Of "Gender-Based Harassment," Co-Founder Preston-Werner Resigns". TechCrunch.
  23. ^ "Microsoft's Acquisition Of GitHub Mints New Billionaires". Forbes. June 4, 2018.
  24. ^ "GitHub's scandalized ex-CEO returns with Chatterbug". October 21, 2017.
  25. ^ "Why We're Investing $8M in the Future of Language Learning". June 27, 2019.
  26. ^ @mojombo (April 23, 2020). "A few weeks ago I was the first guest speaker for the @HackClub AMA series. Now they're having @ElonMusk as a guest…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  27. ^ "DubHacks 2020". Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  28. ^ Def Hacks Virtual 2020. "AMA with Tom Preston-Werner". Youtube. Retrieved August 22, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  29. ^ "Def Hacks Blog - June 20th, 2020".
  30. ^ Heller, Nathan (July 7, 2014). "California Screaming". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  31. ^ "Journal of Folklore Research" (PDF). 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2014.