Why Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub has developers worried
On Monday, June 4th, Microsoft purchased GitHub for $7.5 billion, making it one of the biggest Microsoft deals to date and the largest VC-backed acquisition in history, according to CB Insights.
Founded in 2008, GitHub is the largest online repository of open-source software used by over 28 million developers for code management. GitHub is free to use with paid upgrade options for storage and advanced features. Back in 2015, GitHub was valued at $2 billion, making the $7.5 billion price tag Microsoft paid almost four times that initial valuation.
The deal represents a significant shift from Microsoft in terms of open-source code. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was notoriously opposed to open-source, even going so far as calling it a “cancer” on the software community.
New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella obviously feels quite differently and has embraced open-source. In a blog post about the acquisition, the Microsoft CEO stated, “Developers are the builders of this new era, writing the world’s code. And GitHub is their home.”
While many see the acquisition as a positive step with Microsoft embracing open-source, others view it quite differently. Several developers in the GitHub community are not happy about the acquisition, seeing Microsoft’s takeover as a “Big Brother” type of control over the platform. Users fear that the tech giant may steal their codes to create competing products and track every movement and trend on the platform.
Several loyal GitHub users are already jumping ship over to other providers. GitLab, GitHub’s top competitor, released a Twitter post that it had seen an uptick in traffic and had gained ten times the normal number of repositories since the Microsoft announcement.
Now that it’s part of Microsoft, GitHub will continue to operate independently and will be led by Nat Friedman, founder of Xamarin. Chris Wanstrath, founder and CEO of GitHub, will become a Microsoft technical fellow and report to Microsoft EVP Scott Guthrie.
“Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation,” Nadella said. “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.”
Recent Microsoft mergers and acquisitions include its purchase of LinkedIn for over $26 billion in 2016 and Skype for $9 billion in 2011. Many industry insiders see this latest Microsoft deal in acquiring GitHub as a way for Microsoft’s Azure product to keep up with its biggest competitor in cloud computing, which is Amazon.