We can use Google Analytics to map the location of the small commercial software teams that make up Assembla's current users. They are part of a truly global industry, 74% outside the United States, with strong growth in Eastern Europe and Latin America.
We designed Assembla as a micro-multinational from the start. We study distributed teams, and we experiment on ourselves. When we recruit, we don't express a bias about where team members will be located. We currently have about 33 people in 10 countries, with 40% in North America (US and Canada). I include as a North American our director of system operations, who rules a server empire from his lava-lapped lair in Hawaii.
We know from credit card records that about 50% of our subscribers are in North America.
We took a closer look at location when we started working on internationalization and localization. What languages do we need to support? Do we need to take steps to improve performance in overseas locations? The GA report on "Visits" measures users, not subscribers, and our users turn out to be very widely distributed.
North America has the most visitors, but the share is only 29%. After that comes Western Europe. Google divides the old cold-war Western Europe into "Western", "Northern", and "Southern", but if we add them back together, we get 27%. Then comes Eastern Europe, which contributes an outsized number of visits compared to its population. The bulk of Assembla users (44%) are in Europe and Russia.
South America beats out Southern Asia (mostly India and Pakistan). That is a sign for the future. South America is rising on demographics. The raw material of the software business, the light sweet crude oil of the information age, is educated people in their 20's. South America has a lot of them. Over the last two years our product team has grown in South America, with our tech lead in Argentina, and guys in Chile, Brazil, and Mexico.
We help many teams in India get connected to their customers. Assembla is not currently popular in east Asia. We'll discuss that the country analysis.
United States has the biggest share. We built the site in English for a mostly American audience, and our servers are in the US. However, 74% of visits come from outside the US. From our credit card data, we can see that the US holds about 47% of our paying customers, with about 53% outside of the US.
Russia comes in second. I am convinced that Russia is a power in the software business because of the strength of the old Soviet education system, even 20 years after its demise. I have a young man of Russian origin working in my office and he tells the story about how at age 14 he moved from Moscow to Newton, Massachusetts, considered a very good school district in the US, and "it was too easy. I didn't learn anything new in high school."
Poland shows up with an outsized 3.5%, about the same as France. I think there are universities in Poland that use Assembla. Na zdrowie!
Recently we have heard a lot about the economic isolation of young adults in Arab countries, and it shows up in these logs. Isreal makes a good showing at 1.1%. However, Arab countries are almost invisible in the logs. Egypt, with a population 10x Isreal's, has about 1/6 the number of visits. Some Arab countries get down under 100 visits - basically one person in a coffee shop. But, the Israeli effect spreads to its neighbors. In my recruiting, I have seen a couple of good candidates from the Palestinian territories, one credible candidate from Egypt, and zero from other Arab countries. If the Middle Easterners can ever settle their differences, open the borders, and build a ten lane highway that connects a Lebanese lifestyle with Isreali entrepreneurship and Egyptian 20-somethings, they will have a technology center that rivals California.
China stands out with a small share of 1.5%, about the same as Netherlands, and slightly more than Vietnam. It's possible that we can fix this by doing a Chinese language localization, and moving some servers inside the Chinese firewall zone. We're going to try it. If that doesn't work, I'll move there and figure it out. On the other hand, I've been in the software business a long time, and I haven't known anybody who made money in China. Do any western software vendors make money in China? There's also something odd about the Chinese push to develop IT outsourcing. I hear a lot about it, but I don't see many teams in action. I suspect that their internal demand is so strong that they don't export a lot of services. If they did, we would see them on our servers. We're also under-represented in Indonesia, which is a very large country with a lot happening, but maybe they don't have much of a software business.
On the other hand, we're doing really well in the other BRIC's (Brazil, Russia, India), and in the next tier of emerging countries such as Vietnam.
BY NATIONAL LANGUAGE
Top national languages: English 40.65%, Russian 5.69%, Russia+Ukraine 9.53%, Spanish 6.64%, German 4.83%, Portugese 4.29%
Adding together a bunch of English speaking countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, and India, assuming that Indians use English at work) gets us to 40%. So, 60% of visits are not from English speaking countries. That's where the challenge starts. We can get 25% of the rest (assuming that Ukrainians will use Russian at work) by covering four more languages - Russian, Spanish, German, and Portugese (go Brazil). After that, each new language covers small percentages. It's a big world out there.
The chart of language preferences set in the browser gives a list in the same order - English, Russian, Spanish, German. It confirms that a lot of Ukrainians use Russian. French, Portugese (Brazil), and Polish are in the next group. The major difference is that more than 60% of browser users have selected English. I think that this is because we only offer the product in English, for teams that have decided to work in English, and that the country of origin is a better indication of real preferences after localization.
Top cities: Moscow 2.39%, London 1.86%, New York 1.59%, San Francisco 1.19%, Kyiv 1.08%, Chennai 0.86%, Paris 0.86%, Austin 0.84%
Moscow is has an outsized presence. It shows how concentrated the Russian economy is. However, the humble Russian city of Yekaterinburg, site of my first offshore location in the 90's, has almost as many visits as Boston, our headquarters. I should get out of the office more.
American cities don't show up well in this city analysis because each metropolitan area is chopped up into a lot of smaller cities. For example, San Francisco makes the top four, but the rest of Silicon Valley is spread out in little circles on route 101.
The Indian software business, once concentrated in Bangalore, has spread out. In India, Bangalore is narrowly beaten out by Chennai, and closely followed by Pune.