10k Stars and Counting: From Open Source to the Open Market

Today I am happy to celebrate that we have entered the 10k stars on GitHub club. This is an amazing achievement, and we are grateful for the supportive community of developers. Only 3,400 GitHub repos have more than 10k stars worldwide. We are proud to be part of this.

Unleash began as a personal project to address a challenge I faced as a tech lead. Our dedicated software team needed a way to:

  • Increase development speed
  • Mitigate risk during deployments
  • Boost collaboration within the team

While we theoretically had the freedom to deploy software whenever needed, a significant obstacle existed. Our production releases were all-or-nothing. Deploying a new feature was a binary event, which meant enabling it for everyone simultaneously. We had minimal room for errors.

“Unleash makes pushing to production feel a whole lot safer :-)” — Unleash user

In 2014, we built the first version of Unleash to address this internal need. Our goal was to protect features under development, allowing our team to transition to trunk-based development – a practice commonly employed by high-performing teams according to the State of DevOps Report.

Unleash github star history

Hello Community

When I started Unleash ten years ago, my team was primarily focused on Java and Node.js, so we built the initial Unleash SDKs for these languages. We were a small core team of developers who used our spare time to add new functionality as we discovered new needs. The code was available on GitHub from the very beginning. This open-source approach on GitHub empowered the developer community to contribute improvements to make Unleash work better for them as well.

The first external contributors emerged around the SDKs. The SDKs are an important part of Unleash, as they live in your application and are responsible for evaluating feature flag configurations.

In a landmark contribution, Jason Barron, an external developer, built the Go SDK for Unleash in 2017. This marked one of the first times the project benefited from an externally contributed SDK. Having someone from the outside integrate Unleash with a new programming language was a significant moment, showcasing the growing developer community around the project.

Jason Barron Unleash contributor

As the Unleash community flourished, developers began creating alternative SDKs for more programming languages. In 2018, we selected the one spearheaded by Ivan Lee from New York as the official Unleash Python SDK. What truly set his project apart was his exceptional approach to community engagement. He fostered a welcoming environment by being genuinely curious about bug reports and questions, demonstrating an open and inclusive mind. This was exactly the values I wanted for the entire Unleash community. Beyond his technical contributions, Ivan fostered strong personal connections. Our conversations transcended work, and I had the pleasure of visiting his impressive New York office – the view truly was breathtaking.

Unleash goes to NYC


The Unleash Ruby SDK was built by Renato Arruda, originally from Brazil but now living in Oslo, Norway. This came to life because Renato thought it was silly that Unleash did not have an official SDK for Ruby and asked if he could build one. I never imagined that this would end up being our most downloaded SDK and even out-competing all other Feature Flag vendors on Ruby.

As the Unleash community thrived, a surge in documentation contributions emerged. In retrospect, this focus is understandable. Developers often possess an inherent understanding of their own creations, making it challenging to write documentation that is easy to understand for developers not have the same context and implicit understanding of the project.

The Unleash project wouldn’t be where it is today without the incredible contributions from our vibrant community. We’re deeply grateful for the dedication of over 200 contributors who’ve helped push Unleash to the next level.

Unleash community contributors

Hello Market

Unleash is a tool that shines when multiple developers work together to build software. While I initially envisioned it as a developer-to-developer tool, I was pleasantly surprised when companies started reaching out to explore hosted solutions. This organic demand from the community ultimately led to the creation of “Bricks Software”, the company behind Unleash. Companies often find it more efficient to establish commercial agreements with other businesses, instead of with an OSS maintainer.

Landing our first customer was an exciting moment. It was a strong validation that we were on the right track. In those early days, you get to know your customers incredibly well – I still remember the names of our first ten! You learn a lot from your first customers, and it influences the next step of the journey greatly.

One of the hard challenges we had to overcome was to understand how an open source project and a commercial offering could work together, and make both parts stronger. We have learned a lot over the years, and you can read more on why we ended up with the Open Core business model in our blog.

Unleash team

We have grown into a team of 35 talented individuals, and we’re proud to empower some of the world’s largest and most complex organizations. It’s a truly unique privilege to be part of their journeys.

Our mission is to make life easy for developers. To do so, we need to ensure that Unleash solves real problems and is easy to use. It should never get in the way of the work to be done. We measure this with the Product Net Promoter Score. Our current score is above 83, and anything above 70 is considered world-class. This makes me extremely proud of our team.

Unleash is about to get even better! We’re laser-focused on simplifying developer workflows. Manual tasks are a drag, so we’re making it easier to integrate your favorite dev tools (APM, Analytics, etc.) with Unleash to create a seamless experience. Imagine a smarter workflow where data from anywhere can be used to control your feature rollouts.

We are also hiring! If you want to be a part of the next 10K Github stars, explore our open positions and join us!

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