How ARMO reached 2,000 stars: Enterprise Sales to Open Source PLG

Nevo David
Sep 25, 2023

I recently chatted with Jonathan, VP of Marketing at Armo.
We discussed how they went from a regular old enterprise startup to embracing open source. It was rad hearing about their journey!

You can watch the full video here:

Armo's beginnings

ARMO started off like most companies - targeting big corporations and trying to get sales through demos and long sales cycles. It worked alright, but growth was slow.

In August 2021, everything changed with the NSA's release of the Kubernetes Hardening Guide.

Armo quickly built and released this scanning tool called Kubescape. Despite no marketing, Kubescape immediately exploded in popularity within the Kubernetes community, rapidly garnering thousands of GitHub stars.

When there is a huge problem popping up in the market - automatically, people look for a solution - Kubescape was there, so there were almost 0 requirements for additional marketing.

A good way to build an open-source product is to look into new restrictions that get into the market.

Stunned by this viral growth, Armo pivoted to become an open-source-led company. Kubescape became Armo's flagship offering, and they shifted to a product-led growth model targeting developers and users rather than top-down sales.

Kubescape blows up!

Kubescape got 1000 GitHub stars in just 1 week and hit 2000-3000 stars in 2 months!

  • Compelling event: The NSA paper generated interest in Kubernetes security, and Kubescape solved a timely problem.

  • Audience-tailored: Kubescape provided fast, easy scanning that perfectly matched user needs.

  • Community traction: Kubescape gained exposure on GitHub trending pages, leading more users to it.

Marketing an open-source project

To fuel Kubescape's growth, Armo started marketing it hard:

  • Pushing it on Hacker News - While most articles were not accepted into Hacknews, the few that did create a huge traction of thousands of visitors.

  • Teaming up with Kubernetes influencers for vids and tutorials - ARMO contacted influencers on Youtube to make DEVOPs videos. Instead of focusing on Kubescape, they focused on “How to make your Kubernetes Secured” using Kubescape in the process as a product placement.

  • Quickly creating content around new Kubernetes vulnerabilities - Every time there was a new Kubernetes vulnerability, developers would automatically search for it, and Kubescape was first in the results.

Donating Kubescape to the CNCF

With its success, Armo decided to donate Kubescape to the CNCF.

CNCF - Cloud Native Computing Foundation is the open source, vendor-neutral hub of cloud-native computing, hosting projects like Kubernetes and Prometheus to make cloud-native universal.

Everybody can try and donate their project to CNCF to tap into a greater DEVOPs market.

This gave it:

  • Instant legitimacy for enterprise

  • Built-in community and exposure

  • Assurance it won't go closed-source

But it also had some downsides:

  • Armo lost ownership and branding

  • They had to decouple it from their product

  • Risk of competitors copying it


Also, feel free to connect with Jonathan here:

Last week, I had the honor to talk about my growth hacking journey

I talked about:

  • Starting my career as a full stack / team-leader developer for a decade.

  • Becoming a digital nomad

  • Building my own startups and the acquisition of one of them

  • Turning point, switching from a developer to a growth hacker.

Feel free to watch it here 👇

Do you need help?

I am happy to help any founder/maintainer to find their growth.

  • Get more stars

  • Get more contributors

  • Get more visibility

  • Get more customers

I might give you some “aha!” moments. Who knows 🙇🏻‍♂️

Open-source stories 🫧

Do you have a GitHub library with more than 1k stars?

Can I interview and feature you in the following newsletter?

Please reply to this email, and let’s schedule a call!

See you next week :)

blog note
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