MailChimp & GitHub
Company size: 500+
More than 10 million people and businesses around the world use MailChimp to send marketing emails, automated messages, and targeted campaigns. MailChimp started as a side project in 2001, and has matured into a hugely popular service that sends more than 600 million emails a day.
MailChimp employees get creative and build accessible products and features that empower small business owners and marketing departments alike. From engineers to content creators, MailChimp uses GitHub Enterprise and open source software to work together across teams, foster creativity, and build products that delight their customers.
A need to consolidate tools
In 2015, the development team used a variety of custom tools and proprietary software to build their platform. At the rate MailChimp was growing, it was clear that their development process was getting complicated. It was time to find a simpler way to work that allowed the team to manage their own servers and bring them in house.
The decision to scale back the tools they used and switch to GitHub Enterprise was inspired by how MailChimp developers worked in their spare time. "It got to the point where people were asking for GitHub," said Senior Infrastructure Engineer Bill O'Neil, "so we moved."
Faster onboarding with familiar tools
In recent years, MailChimp has grown fast but deliberately. The hiring team focuses on recruiting talented developers from all kinds of technical backgrounds. MailChimp has been able to make the onboarding process easier by adopting tools and technologies that many developers already know.
Regardless of their backgrounds, new hires are often familiar with Git and GitHub. They are also likely to know the open source software that MailChimp uses, like Apache, NGINX, or PHP. As a result, Bill explained, "We've narrowed down the ramp up for our developers from three months to a three days. In fact, some people come in on day one and they're contributing code."
"We're growing deliberately—and GitHub is one of the tools that's helping us do that."
Transparent collaboration, from code to content
Engineers aren't the only people using GitHub at MailChimp. Director of Technical Content and Testing Alianor Chapman explained, "When we created our GitHub environment, we gave everyone on our product team access to it." This means that more than just code makes it into MailChimp's GitHub repositories.
With so many different roles using GitHub, MailChimp has been able to adopt better processes company-wide. Technical writers and testers can get context on changes, communicate with developers, and deeply understand upcoming features. "It's really helpful for understanding the scope of features" Alianor said, "We are legitimately better at our jobs because we can see what is going on."
Separately, the marketing content team uses GitHub to host the public style guide that documents how MailChimp writes content—from friendly guides to legal documents. When the team couldn't find a style guide that fit the needs of every team, they created their own. Then they open sourced it to help other organizations running into the same problem.
"We love to share our work, and GitHub made it super easy to do that. People can take our style guide and modify it so it works for their organization."
A platform that empowers people
What attracts many applicants to MailChimp is the desire to work at a company that values creativity and collaboration at every level on every team—from product design to infrastructure. Bill explains, "For the infrastructure team, code is essentially our poetry. That's how we get to be creative in our roles."
The creativity that defines MailChimp's brand ultimately comes from empowered employees. For developers, GitHub fosters a sense of community while empowering them to work together. "Because we're using tools like GitHub, we don't have to worry about working in a box. We can throw an idea out there, and everyone else can help make it even better."