CEO Preferences


This page is intended to be helpful, feel free to deviate from it and update this page if you think it makes sense. If there are things that might seem pretentious or overbearing please raise them so we can remove or adapt them. Many items further down this page are a guideline for our Executive Assistants (EAs).


Transparency and directness are part of our values and I want to live them by sharing the flaws I know I have. I'm fully responsible for improving the things below, listing them is no excuse. They are listed here for two reasons. The fist one is so that people know it is not them but my fault. The second one is so I can improve, I hope that listing them lets people know I appreciate when people speak up about them.

  1. I look serious all the time, it is OK to say 'maybe you can smile more'.
  2. I love debating, it is OK to say 'please stop debating and start collaborating' or 'we should have a dialectic instead of a debate'.
  3. My English pronunciation, choice of words, and grammar are not great. I'm taking lessons but I welcome corrections when we're having a 1:1 conversation and/or when it might confuse people.
  4. When in a rush I will jump to conclusions, it is OK to ask 'can we take more time to discuss this'.
  5. I sometimes make reports feel like I'm scolding them, as in being angry for a perceived fault. It is OK to say, I don't mind you making that point but your tone doesn't make me feel respected.
  6. In my feedback I sometimes sound more like I'm giving an order instead of offering a suggestion, even when I mean the latter. It is OK to say 'that sounds like an order, I would have appreciated it more in the form of a suggestion'.

If you speak up about them I should thank you for it, it is OK to say 'this was on your list of flaws so I kinda expected a thank you'. I'm sure I have more flaws that affect my professional life. Feel free to send a merge request to add them or communicate them anonymously to People Operations so they can send a merge request.


Thanks to Mårten Mickos for the inspiration for this section. All good idea's are his, all bad ones mine.

I am a visual person much more than auditory, and I am a top-down person much more than bottom-up. This means that I love written communication: issues, email, Google Docs, and chat. Feel free to send me as many emails and chat messages as you like, and about whatever topics you like.

If you have a great new idea or suggestion for me, I appreciate if you can convey it in a picture or in written words, because I learn by seeing more than I learn by hearing. I don't mind if you send me or point me to plans that are in draft mode or not ready. I am happy if I can give useful feedback early. It doesn’t have to be perfect and polished when presented to me.

In written communication, I appreciate the top-down approach. Set the subject header to something descriptive. Start the email by telling me what the email is about. Only then go into details. Don't mix separate topics in the same email, it is perfectly fine to send two emails at almost the same time. Try to have a concrete proposal so I can just reply with OK if that is possible.

I get many email on which I am only cc'd on, I would very much appreciate if you started emails intended specifically for me with "Sid," or some other salutation that makes it clear that the message is for me.

I have accounts on LinkedIn and Facebook. I will not send invites to team members on those networks since as the CEO I don't want to impose myself on anyone. But I would love to connect and I will happily accept your LinkedIn and Facebook friend request. You can also find me on Twitter as @sytses.

Pick your brain meetings

If people want advice on open source, remote work, or other things related to GitLab we'll consider that. If Sid approves of the request we send the following email:

We would love to help but we want to make sure the content is radiated as wide as possible. Can we do the following?

  1. We schedule a 50 minute Zoom video call or visit to our office that is recorded by us, uploaded to Youtube as a private video, and shared with you.
  2. You write up a draft post within 48 hours after the interview in a Google Doc and share that with us with suggestion or edit rights for anyone that knows the url.
  3. You can redact anything you don't want to publish.
  4. Our marketing department will work with you to publish the post.
  5. A great examples of this in action are the first two times we did this and Both got to nr. 1 on Hacker News.

The EA will create an issue once it's scheduled with the label ceo-interview on should follow up to make sure the draft post is submitted.

Reply to emails: Thanks for wanting to chat. I propose we meet in the format proposed on so that other people benefit from our conversation too. If you're up for that please work with Kirsten (cc:) to schedule a time and location.

Alternatively we can also make it a YouTube live event, people can ask us questions in the chat during the event, and we can share the recording later.



Formats for invites

Make sure to include in the description

Hiring process


EA does research for the best option for a flight and propose this to the CEO before booking. Make sure to add a calendar item for 2 hours before take off for check in and add a separate one for travel time before that in the CEO's calendar If a flight was changed or not taken due to delays or other circumstances, make sure to check with the airline for the persons flight status Current preferences for flights are:



Sales meetings

Some general guidelines of what travel is appropriate, these guidelines are not fixed, feel free to ask for exceptions:

  1. Check my availability with the EA, reschedule with the EA, cancel with the EA, not me.
  2. I'll take any meeting via video conference or at our office.
  3. I'll take a meeting in the Bay Area as long as it is not an SMB organization.
  4. I'll take a meeting outside the Bay Area but in the US with large or strategic organizations
  5. I'll take a meeting outside the US with strategic organizations.

Consider the following to increase efficiency:


If you are a GitLab team member you can use our house in Utrecht, the Netherlands for free with up to 5 guests. You can find more information on AirBnB. When it is not reserved on the AirBnB calendar you can reserve it, message Karen Sijbrandij in the #valley chat channel to do so. Our host Justus will check you in and out and will take care of the cleaning. Enjoy your stay!