Successful Companies That Outsourced Some of Their Development

Outsourcing doesn’t just save money. It helps you innovate. Here are a few major companies that outsourced some of their development. Take a look.

Outsourcing is a popular cost-cutting measure–in fact, 59% of companies choose to outsource for that reason. But 57% of businesses also use outsourcing to focus on their core business and innovate, with spectacular results.

While you might not automatically associate outsourcing with innovation, the truth is, outsourcing frees you to do more with your development (without the struggle to find tech talent).

Don’t believe it? The case studies speak for themselves. Here are a few successful companies that outsourced some of their development.

Slack

It’s a bit ironic that a word colloquially used to describe laziness is also the name of one of the major workplace productivity apps. But if you’re like 43% of Fortune 100 businesses and 10 million active users, you probably used Slack today. It’s the world’s most popular corporate chat technology.

What you may not know is that Slack outsourced some of its development–and that helped build Slack into the tech behemoth it is today.

Slack didn’t do its tech development in-house. In fact, the whole reason Slack had a platform to beta-test was because of a design firm called MetaLab, which now counts Slack as one of its largest success stories. The Slack you now recognize, from the playful interface to the delightful little interactions to the unmistakable Slack logo, is entirely the handiwork of MetaLab. And it all happened before Slack even opened the platform to beta-testers.

Slack’s partnership with MetaLab is proof of how early-stage outsourcing can fundamentally shape your business strategy–and alter it for success. Slack came to MetaLab with just a prototype, but with MetaLab’s development work, it built an entire strategy that altered the way corporations handle internal communications.

GitHub

What if we said that the eponymous platform for developers…was actually designed by an outsourced developer?

If you know development, you know GitHub. It’s the site where developers come together to document, share, and edit private code. But back in the day, when GitHub was just an idea, it needed a website developer but had little to no money to afford an in-house team.

What they did have was an impression–of Scott Chacon. Now the CIO of GitHub, Chacon met with GitHub CEO and co-founder Chris Wanstrath at a Ruby on Rails meetup in San Francisco. Wanstrath couldn’t afford to hire Chacon full-time, but he was deeply impressed by Chacon’s knowledge of Gits. So, GitHub hired Chacon as a freelance consultant to write Gist, GitHub’s sharing feature.

This partnership is a great example of how a cost-saving measure can also drive innovation. GitHub needed valuable skills but didn’t have a lot of resources or budget to acquire them, so it turned to outsourcing as a means to access great talent at an affordable price point. The result was one of GitHub’s best-loved features.

Google

Yes, the reigning king of the Internet also outsourced some of its development. That might be surprising, considering that Google is known for taking care of its in-house staff and employees. But Google is actually a prime example of how smart outsourcing can help you take advantage of key growth opportunities.

While Google has always prioritized its in-house California staff, it has also strategically deployed outsourced development, primarily on projects that require continuous, cost-effective deployment. This allows Google staff to do a better job developing and managing their many ongoing projects.

The best example is Google’s outsourcing of phone and email support for AdWords to around 1,000 outsourced representatives. AdWords is one of the company’s primary business lines and largest earners. By strategically outsourcing, Google could continue effective deployment of customer support while also allowing its core team to focus on new innovations that would make AdWords stronger.

Alibaba

Alibaba isn’t as well-known in the English-speaking world, but it’s China’s (and by some measures, the world’s) largest online retailer. It’s the eBay of China, a behemoth with a population of billions as its customer base.

Ironically, despite the fact that Americans don’t know much about Alibaba, it wouldn’t exist today without the help of U.S. developers. Back in the day, when Jack Ma first set out to build Alibaba, there wasn’t much of a talent pool to draw on in China, and local internet restrictions made it difficult to find and hire local programmers.

So, Ma hired a firm in the U.S. to build Alibaba’s entire back-end. This had two advantages: for one, it gave him access to talent that was almost impossible to acquire in China, and for another, it allowed him to appeal to a bilingual audience. Since Alibaba was designed by American developers and then Chinese developers, the site could speak directly to English and Chinese speakers.

Skype

Video conferencing is now a feature of everyday life (looking at you, FaceTime), but back in the early 2000s, Skype was revolutionary. It built the foundation for video conferencing that other apps and technologies grew from.

And it’s all thanks to three outsourced Estonian developers: Jaan Tallinn, Ahti Heinla, and Priit Kasesalu. These three developers had worked with the Skype co-founders before on a peer-to-peer music sharing platform called Kazaa. No one remembers Kazaa these days, but they do remember Skype.

And Skype wouldn’t have been possible without those three developers. They built the site’s entire backend. They were later added as partners, but their work as outsourced developers built the foundation of Skype and allowed it to become a household staple.

Let’s Build and Strengthen Your Company

In short, outsourcing development is more than just a convenient way to save money. The right outsourcing partner can help you build the foundation of your company, whether that means accessing talent you couldn’t otherwise afford, innovating ideas that become central to your platform, strengthening your ongoing deployment, or setting you up to access a wider audience.

Here at Hexacta, we provide nearshore custom software development and other services for companies with big ideas. We’ve helped companies develop solutions for over 20 years by prioritizing technical excellence. Get in touch today to learn how outsourcing can strengthen your software development.

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