Microsoft Buys GitHub - Get Ready For a Bigger Devil
Written by Sue Gee   
Monday, 04 June 2018
Microsoft has announced a deal to acquire GitHub valued at $7.5 billion. Microsoft vice president Nat Friedman, formerly CEO of Xamarin, will become GitHub CEO, taking over from GitHub's founder Chris Wanstrath.


Wanstrath (left in photo above), who last August announced his intention to step down from GitHub as CEO once he had found a replacement, is to become a Microsoft technical fellow and work on strategic software initiatives. He seems entirely satisfied with the deal saying: 

"The future of software development is bright, and I'm thrilled to be joining forces with Microsoft to help make it a reality. Their focus on developers lines up perfectly with our own, and their scale, tools and global cloud will play a huge role in making GitHub even more valuable for developers everywhere."

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was careful to allay fears developers might have: 

"Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation. We recognize the community responsibility we take on with this agreement and will do our best work to empower every developer to build, innovate and solve the world's most pressing challenges." 

well he would say that wouldn't he...

On his own blog Nadella reminds us of the scale of the acquisition:

More than 28 million developers already collaborate on GitHub, and it is home to more than 85 million code repositories used by people in nearly every country. From the largest corporations to the smallest startups, GitHub is the destination for developers to learn, share and work together to create software. It’s a destination for Microsoft too. We are the most active organization on GitHub, with more than 2 million “commits,” or updates, made to projects.

The fact that Microsoft was the organization with the most open source contributors on GitHub came as something as a surprise when it was revealed in 2016. However, given that we had already reported the beginning of the Microsoft Mass Migration To GitHub in January 2015 and then seen more Microsoft projects follow the open-source trend. it was really an obvious corollary. In 2017 Microsoft finally shut its own open-source project hosting site, CodePlex, providing practical help for projects to migrate to GitHub, which Brian Harry described in his announcement of the closure as:

"the de facto place for open source sharing"

Reiterating Microsoft's commitment to open source Nadella also writes:

Microsoft is all-in on open source. We have been on a journey with open source, and today we are active in the open source ecosystem, we contribute to open source projects, and some of our most vibrant developer tools and frameworks are open source. When it comes to our commitment to open source, judge us by the actions we have taken in the recent past, our actions today, and in the future.

The next part of his blog post, in which he itemizes three opportunities, reveals what it is that Microsoft hopes to get out of the deal:

First, we will empower developers at every stage of the development lifecycle – from ideation to collaboration to deployment to the cloud.

Second, we will accelerate enterprise developers’ use of GitHub, with our direct sales and partner channels and access to Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure and services.

Finally, we will bring Microsoft’s developer tools and services to new audiences.

In short Microsoft is looking to get Azure a much bigger share of the cloud market and hopes to sell its own and its partners tools and services.

It is no coincidence that, after the deal is concluded, GitHub’s financials will be reported as part of the Intelligent Cloud segment and that both Nat Friedman and Chris Wanstrath will report to Microsoft Cloud Vice President Scott Guthrie.


The PowerPoint Online presentation relating to the acquisition makes specific reference to the GitHub Marketplace:

In the future, developers will be able to discover, adopt, consume and pay for everything they need in one place. This includes developer and cloud services from Microsoft and any party that chooses to participate in this open marketplace. 

What do developers think? The reaction so far is mixed. GitLab, which already had an import tool for repos moving to it from GitHub and tweeted about the acquisition before it was confirmed, has reported a spike in the arrival of new repos. Other developers who don't want to stay with GitHub are looking to Altassian's BitBucket as an alternative. Many developers, however, feel that Microsoft today is very different from a decade ago and that it has a good record with regard to open source.

Open source developers tend to be a little idealistic and having Microsoft take over GitHub will come as a culture shock. The problem is that open source doesn't have the cash to pay for the services it needs to operate. As a result it has to take "handouts" from commercial services. GitHub has never been a non-profit and it supported open source by taking money from less open paying customers. In this sense open source isn't pure and sups with the devil - now the devil is a bit bigger than it was.


More Information

Microsoft to acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion (Microsoft News Center)

Microsoft + GitHub = Empowering Developers (Satya Nadella's blog)

A bright future for GitHub (Chris Wanstrath on GitHub blog)

Related Articles

GitHub Marketplace Now Accepts Free Apps and Offers Free Trials

Microsoft CodePlex Is Shutting Down 

Microsoft Mass Migration To GitHub 

GitHub Octoverse Reveals The State Of Open Source

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Last Updated ( Monday, 04 June 2018 )