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Tom Preston-Werner
Preston-Werner in July 2013
Born (1979-10-28) October 28, 1979 (age 38)
Dubuque, Iowa, U.S.
Residence San Francisco, California, U.S.
Organization GitHub, Inc.
Net worth $1.25 billion (June 2018) [1]
Title Co-Founder & Former CEO of GitHub
Successor Chris Wanstrath
Spouse(s) Theresa Preston-Werner[2][3][non-primary source needed]
Children 1

Thomas "Tom" Preston-Werner (born October 28, 1979) is a software developer, inventor and entrepreneur. He is an active contributor within the open-source development community, most prominently in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lives.

He is most prominently known for his role as founder and former CEO of GitHub,[4] a Git repository web-based hosting service, which he co-founded in 2008 with Chris Wanstrath and PJ Hyett.[5] He resigned from GitHub in 2014 when an internal investigation concluded that he and his wife harassed an employee.[6] Preston-Werner is also the creator of the avatar service Gravatar.[7]

Preston-Werner lives in San Francisco with his wife Theresa and their son.[2][7]

His wife is a former grad student in cultural anthropology known for her involvement in historical research and social subjects.[8][9]


Early lifeEdit

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.[10]

He graduated grade school at Dubuque Senior High School and attended Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California for 2 years before dropping out to pursue other endeavours.[10] He realized that he enjoyed programming far more than the math that was the core of his physics studies.[citation needed]


As an active contributor to the open-source developer and hacker culture, most prominently in areas involving the programming language Ruby,[11] he has written enthusiastic articles regarding his philosophies and opinions on various issues. He has been featured as a guest on podcasts, including Rubyology and SitePoint,[12] and he often speaks out about his conviction that developers should seek to collaborate more, and the measures which would promote such collaboration, such as writing better documentation and contributing to other people's projects.[13][non-primary source needed]

In 2008 Tom Preston-Werner spoke about the application of conceptual algorithms to higher-level thinking patterns, rather than solely to coding patterns.[14]

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.[11] On April 8, 2011 he also started a conference called CodeConf, by means of GitHub's influence in the coding community.

Preston-Werner is the creator of the TOML configuration file format[15].


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.[16]

In 2004, Preston-Werner founded Gravatar, a service for providing globally unique avatars that follow users from site to site. The company grew to about 32,000 users in 2007,[17][non-primary source needed] when Preston-Werner sold the company to Automattic.[18] In 2005 he moved to San Francisco to work at Powerset, a natural language search engine. Eventually Powerset was acquired by Microsoft. Preston-Werner declined a $300,000 bonus and stock options from Microsoft so that he could focus on GitHub.[10]


While with Powerset,[19] Preston-Werner met Chris Wanstrath and PJ Hyett at a Ruby developer meet-up in San Francisco. In 2008, the three founders, with the fourth founder, Scott Chacon, founded web-based GitHub as a place to share and collaborate on code.[20]

Architects, musicians, city governments, builders and others are currently using GitHub to share and collaborate on projects beyond software code.[21][22]

In 2010, while visiting relatives in Iowa, Tom saw a comment written about GitHub on Twitter in which the poster insulted the quality of the search functionality of GitHub. After seeing all of the comments, Tom considered their accuracy and decided that the original comment was in fact valid; he personally set out to completely overhaul the service's search functionality by drawing on his experience having worked at Powerset.[11]

Resignation from GitHubEdit

In March 2014, GitHub programmer Julie Ann Horvath alleged that founder and CEO Tom Preston-Werner and his wife Theresa engaged in a pattern of harassment against her that led her to leave the company.[23][24] In April 2014, GitHub released a statement denying Horvath's allegations.[25][26][27] However, following an internal investigation, GitHub confirmed some of the claims. GitHub's new CEO Chris Wanstrath wrote on the company blog, "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."[6] Preston-Werner then resigned from the company.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ {{|url=}}
  2. ^ a b Deamicis, Carmel (February 7, 2014). "This year at the Crunchies: Class tensions and tech-charity". PandoDaily. Retrieved April 22, 2014. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Etherington, Darrell (21 January 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 
  5. ^ [citation needed]
  6. ^ a b "Follow up to the investigation results". April 28, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Tom Preston-Werner". Bloomberg Link. Bloomberg. Retrieved May 24, 2013. 
  8. ^ Heller, Nathan (2014-07-07). "California Screaming". The New Yorker. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "Journal of Folklore Research" (PDF). 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c Bourne, Will (February 27, 2013). "2 Reasons to Keep an Eye on GitHub". Inc. Retrieved May 24, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c Randall Thomas (2011-02-05). "Interview with Tom Preston-Werner" (MP3) (Podcast). 1 (Cloud Out Loud ed.). Engine Yard, Inc. Event occurs at 42:35. Retrieved 2014-10-21. Lay summary. The Ruby community and the way the Ruby community interacts is always kind of my model for how it should be done.  |entry= ignored (help)
  12. ^ Simoneau, Louis (2011-04-09). "SitePoint Podcast #107: Social Coding with GitHub's Tom Preston-Werner". SitePoint. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  13. ^ Preston-Werner, Tom (2008-05-30). The Profitable Programmer: Creating Successful Side Projects (PDF). RailsConf. Portland Ballroom Room 255: O'Reilly. 1450. Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  14. ^ Preston-Werner, Tom (2008-07-20). God's memory leak - a scientific treatment. RubyFringe. Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  15. ^ "TOML, Tom's Own Markup Language". Y Combinator Link. Y Combinator. Retrieved May 10, 2017. 
  16. ^ Preston-Werner, Tom (October 2010). "Readme Driven Development" (PDF). Hacker Monthly (5): 22. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Werner, Tom. "Updated Croppr & Stats". Gravatar Blog. Retrieved April 22, 2014. 
  18. ^ Aamoth, Doug (October 17, 2007). "Automattic Acquires Gravatar". TechCrunch. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  19. ^ Newcomb, Steve. "Cult Creation" (PDF). Retrieved 22 October 2014. and second Tom Preston Werner (now the founder of GitHub). ! We got both of them 
  20. ^ McMillan, Robert (February 21, 2012). "Lord of the Files: How GitHub Tamed Free Software (And More)". Wired. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  21. ^ Silverman, Rachel Emma (August 6, 2013). "Some Tech Firms Ask: Who Needs Managers?". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 10, 2013. (Subscription required (help)). 
  22. ^ Howard, Alex (March 8, 2013). "GitHub gains new prominence as the use of open source within governments grows". Radar. O'Reilly. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  23. ^ Wilhelm, Alex. "Julie Ann Horvath Describes Sexism And Intimidation Behind Her GitHub Exit – TechCrunch". 
  24. ^ Biddle, Sam; Tiku, Nitasha (March 17, 2014). "Meet the Married Duo Behind Tech's Biggest New Harassment Scandal". Vallywag. Gawker. Retrieved March 17, 2014. 
  25. ^ Wanstrath, Chris (21 April 2014). "Results of the GitHub Investigation". The GitHub Blog. 
  26. ^ Miller, Claire Cain (April 21, 2014). "GitHub Founder Resigns After Investigation". Bits. The New York Times. 
  27. ^ Wilhelm, Alex (April 21, 2014). "GitHub Denies Allegations Of "Gender-Based Harassment," Co-Founder Preston-Werner Resigns". TechCrunch.