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GitLab removes its 'starter' tier: Users must either pay 5x more or lose features

Customer: 'It feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth'


Cloudy DevOps company GitLab has removed its $4.00 user/month Bronze/Starter tier, giving users the choice between paying for Premium at $19.00 or downgrading to the free tier and losing some features.

GitLab CEO and co-founder Sid Sijbrandij said yesterday: "The Bronze/Starter tier does not meet the hurdle rate that GitLab expects from a tier and is limiting us from investing to improve GitLab for all customers."

Hurdle rate? This is investment jargon. Sijbrandij linked to a definition which describes it as "the minimum rate of return on a project or investment required by a manager or investor." In other words, GitLab decided it was not making enough money on the $4.00 user/month subscription.

The company's pricing handbook states reassuringly that "when in doubt, we will default to moving features to a lower tier" but the effect of the change is that any features in Bronze that are not in the free tier have been moved up.

How many features? "Each PM went through the buyer based pricing model referenced above for each feature in Starter to determine whether they should be part of Core or Premium going forward. The issue is not public right now, but the output was that all but one feature will be in Premium," said GitLab in response to a question.

Move up ... or back to free?

Sijbrandij said the price hoist will be mitigated by a transition offer. Existing customers with up to 25 users can renew for one more year at the existing $4.00 rate, or get a free upgrade to Premium along with a staggered discount at the next renewal: $6.00 on year 1, $9.00 year 2 and $15.00 for year 3. Larger customers get the mystery "contact your sales rep" treatment.

Some may manage with the free tier. Sijbrandij said that it has 89 per cent of the features in Starter. GitLab offers the free tier "for a single developer" and as an alternative to GitHub's free tier.

Starter, in the now-deleted description, was for single team usage. Features in Bronze that are in free include requiring approvals on merge requests, pipeline code coverage rates, iterations, assigning multiple people to issues, iterations, assigning weights to issues, repository mirroring, code quality reports, code review analytics and more.

The discussion on GitLab's forum is as you would expect. "There is little explanation as to why a 5x increase in costs to maintain starter features on-prem is justified, beyond gaining additional premium features. It feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth" said one customer.

We will definitely change to Github because there is no reason to pay 19$ for the few features we really need. Maybe [we] will hit the hurdle rate there

Another added: "We will definitely change to Github because there is no reason to pay 19$ for the few features we really need. Maybe will hit the hurdle rate there."

Others were more constructive. "Wouldn't it make more sense to have a base user pricing (dunno 4€/month) and add feature bundles?" said a user.

One complication is that GitLab requires that all users in a group are on the same plan. "My department of 40 does the vast majority (90 per cent plus of all commits/MRs) of the coding in the company, but we enrolled everyone within operations as well so that they could contribute on occasion. The rest of those users are never going to be worth spending $19 a month on, but it really sucks having to put up barriers from people who do like to contribute on occasion," said a user on Hacker News - though the company said it is looking at this use case and may "iterate the pricing".

GitLab is in part an open source product, but the open source version is the same as the free tier, so it is not a way to add features unless developers fancy forking the code.

Nobody expects .... the fivefold augmentation

The company does have a generous free tier, but the disturbing aspect of this is the uncertainty it introduces: price increases are expected but not fivefold increases. Source code is easy to migrate from GitLab to an alternative, but migrating all the other parts of a service that presents itself as a complete DevOps platform is difficult, so there is an element of lock-in.

GitLab is second only to Microsoft-owned GitHub in this market. GitHub is tough to compete with in part because of Microsoft's financial clout and the fact that GitHub is more a strategic asset to win developers than a profit centre.

GitLab intends to become a public company and states in its handbook that "the strength of our business model enables us latitude in selecting a favorable public offering environment and not be beholden to a specific date" – though there was a proposed date of November 2020, which it missed.

It is therefore possible that the company is endeavouring to improve its business model ahead of a public offering. In that light, forcing unprofitable customers either to go elsewhere or to pay more may make perfect sense, though it is not so good for the way it is perceived by the developer community. ®

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Cloudflare slams AWS egress fees to convince web giant to join its discount data club

Lower your prices and play nicer, CDN goliath suggests

Cloudflare on Friday accused competitor Amazon Web Services of massive markups and hindering customer data portability, even as it invited the cloud services giant to join its discount data initiative known as the Bandwidth Alliance.

"AWS’s bandwidth pricing is bonkers," said CEO Matthew Prince, via Twitter. "And they stand alone in the industry not discounting when their customers send traffic to peered networks."

Prince and Nitin Rao, SVP of global infrastructure at Cloudflare, elaborated on that claim in a blog post that argues AWS is charging customers orders of magnitude more than its costs and makes a mockery of its parent company's mission statement that Amazon strives "to offer our customers the lowest possible prices…"

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With Alphabet's legendary commitment to products, we can't wait to see what its robotics biz Intrinsic achieves

Google parent hopes to inject AI into factory machines

Alphabet today launched its latest tech startup, Intrinsic, which aims to build commercial software that will power industrial robots.

Intrinsic will focus on developing software control tools for industrial robots used in manufacturing, we're told. Its pitch is that the days of humans having to manually program and adjust a robot's every move are over, and that mechanical bots should be more autonomous and smart, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and leaps in training techniques.

This could make robots easier to direct – give them a task, and they'll figure out the specifics – and more efficient – the AI can work out the best way to achieve its goal.

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Google fixes 'Chromebork' one-character code typo that prevented Chrome OS logins

Programming blunder is the second such snafu this month

Bug of the week Google has fixed a bug in Chrome OS version 91.0.4472.165 that surfaced on Monday and prevented some users from being able to login to their systems.

Chrome OS downloads updates automatically but doesn't apply them until reboot, so only those who restarted their Chromebooks to ingest the force-fed broken update were affected.

Earlier this week, the internet titan on its Google Workplace status page said, "Our engineering team has identified an issue on Chrome OS 91.0.4472.165. The rollout of this version was halted."

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Rackspace literally decimates workforce: One in ten staffers let go this week

85% of those jobs will be rehired, just in cheaper countries

Updated Around 10 per cent of Rackspace staff, predominantly in the US it seems, got an unwelcome email this week informing them they were being let go.

Not that the work they do isn't needed. In an paperwork submitted to the SEC on Wednesday, Rackspace disclosed that 85 per cent of the positions being cut will be backfilled by workers in "offshore service centers." That'll be where wages are lower and labor laws more lax, presumably.

"The rebalance in workforce is a component of a broader strategic review of the Company’s operations that is intended to more effectively align the Company’s resources with its business priorities in high growth areas," Rackspace said.

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Punchy Italian kartist gets 15-year ban for trackside rampage... and other stories

An unexpectedly vehicular collection of chaos and confusion for your consideration

Welcome back for another compendium of tomfoolery from this week for those who enjoy a bit of light-hearted piffle. And let's face it, who doesn't?

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Latest Windows 11 Preview a well-rounded update – literally

What else is round? Oh yes, holes

While the Windows of today may have more holes in it than a 20-year-old pair of underpants, Microsoft has continued plugging away at previews for the upcoming iteration, Windows 11.

Having got the excitement of integrated Teams chat out the way earlier this week, it was business as usual for build 22000.100, released to Dev Channel Insiders last night.

This week's modifications are all about soothing users whose nerves have likely been shredded by the recent arrival of HiveNightmare.

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Apologetic Audacity rewrites privacy policy after 'significant lapse in communication'

Of course kids are allowed. Whatever gave you the impression they weren't?

Open-source audio editor Audacity this week posted an apology on GitHub in response to the entirely predictable furore over the platform's privacy policy.

An updated privacy policy accompanied the apology, in which the team insisted it had just been misunderstood, and that a look at the source would have shown its intentions.

"We are deeply sorry for the significant lapse in communication caused by the original privacy policy document," it said. The fact that it didn't regret the actual document itself seemed to alarm a good many users.

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eBay cyberstalking victims sue internet tat bazaar over former staff members' campaign of harassment

We endured enormous cruelty and abuse and feared for our lives, say couple

A couple from the US who run a small ecommerce publication have launched legal action against eBay accusing the company of a "coordinated effort to intimidate, threaten to kill, torture, terrorize, stalk and silence" them to muzzle their coverage.

The allegations – made in a complaint lodged in the US District Court of Massachusetts this week – are the latest chapter in a long-running case that has already resulted in guilty pleas from a number of former employees in what has become known as the "eBay cyberstalking case".

Lawyers acting on behalf of the owners of EcommerceBytes – an online trade publication that covers the ecommerce industry run by journalists Ina and David Steiner - said the intimidation was so bad they were in fear for their lives.

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Anyone fancy a Snowmobile full of Bags O'Crap? It'll be on the list somewhere

Reg reader reveals colossal 821-item collection of Amazon trademarks tucked away on its site

Recently, a Reg reader* contacted us at Vulture (virtual) Towers with something odd they'd found online – a page tucked away in the little-visited “Legal Policies” section of Amazon's website containing a "non-exhaustive" list of all the trademarks held by the company.

The list is massive: 821 trademarks, sorted alphabetically and listed entirely free of context or explanation.

On first glance, the contents can be baffling, or will induce flights of fancy as to their purpose. When simply plucked out of a list of plain-text words, the purpose of, say, "6PM", "BAG O'CRAP" or "MAD DOGS" are difficult to discern.

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Subcontractors working on CityFibre's £45m Derby rollout threaten to 'rip up tarmac' in dispute over payments

Main contractor J McCann insists it takes its obligations 'very seriously'

Contractors helping to lay fibre cables under streets in Derby have threatened to scrap their work and "rip up tarmac" they've laid – unless they get paid.

A report by Construction Enquirer claims that subcontractors have also downed tools following the payment row.

The cables are being laid for digital infrastructure outfit CityFibre, which is spending £45m to install digital infrastructure in Derby.

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Reserve Bank of India official suggests country may soon have a digital currency pilot

CBDC would be released in phases to prevent volatility

India may be launching a digital currency, an official from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said today.

Speaking at a panel discussion held by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy think tank, RBI deputy governor T Rabi Shankar described the potential Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) have for India, including smoother international transactions and protections from volatility.

Addressing whether CBDCs are needed in India, Shankar said: "It is important that all central banks get on the CBDC arrangements and coordinate effectively within themselves to actually maximize the immense potentials that CBDCs carry."

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