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“WEIRDLY, THINGS haven’t changed much”, says Kyle Mathews as he sprays disinfectant on his hands. At least at work. His startup, Gatsby, helps websites manage content in the cloud. It has no headquarters and its 50-odd employees straddle the world, from Mr Mathews’s home in Berkeley, California, to Siberia.
Such “fully distributed” firms were on the rise before covid-19. As national lockdowns spread, conventional ones are forced into similar arrangements. Those that have grown up this way offer lessons.
Distributed organisations are as old as the internet. Its first users 50 years ago realised how much can be done by swapping emails and digital files. These exchanges led to the development of “open source” software, jointly written by groups of strangers often geographically distant.
Today most distributed startups have open-source roots. Gatsby is one. Nearly all 1,200 employees of another, Automattic, best known for...
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This content was originally published by The Economist: Business. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By The Economist: Business