What does Microsoft’s acquisition of Github mean for the tech world?

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American tech giant Microsoft recently announced plans to acquire code sharing website Github for $7.5 billion (£5.6 billion). While Github will be under full Microsoft ownership by the end of the year, it’ll continue to operate as an independent company – but with Xamarin founder Nat Friedman taking the reins.

Founded by Chris Wanstrath and Tom Preston-Wener in 2008, Github has evolved into a hotspot where software developers can network and collaborate on projects. Positioned as a social networking platform for coders, it sports features such as bug tracking, feature requests, task management and wikis. Github is essentially a knowledge sharing tool.

Technology pundits have already begun questioning the impact the acquisition will have on the industry, especially when it comes to the way open-source developers collaborate on projects. A few members of our team share their thoughts on the news.

A strategic move

Steve Thair, who is the co-founder of DevOpsGuys and a Microsoft regional director, isn’t surprised that the tech firm is purchasing Github as it’s already a big user of the service. “I think the acquisition makes sound strategic sense from Microsoft’s perspective, mainly because Github is already integrated into the Visual Studio Team Services product. Microsoft is also one of the largest users of Github for its open-source projects,” he says.

But, at the same time, Steve sees huge benefits for Github. In particular, the deal will give it better stability – and incoming CEO Ned Freeman will be able to steer the future direction of the firm. “Based on the valuation that Github has achieved, it makes sound commercial sense that it’s seeking a new home with Microsoft, which has the capability to reduce burn rate significantly. It could host Github in Azure among other things,” continues Steve.

“The appointment of Nat Friedman as Github’s new CEO is also a sound move. Not only does he have extensive experience in the open- source software community, but following the sale of Xamarin, he knows how to make a successful integration with Microsoft while maintaining the values and benefits of the original company. “

Early concerns

Of course, the announcement hasn’t been without controversy. Many open-source developers are worried that Microsoft could tarnish what has been an overly consistent, transparent platform. But Thair takes the view that people shouldn’t jump conclusions or worry, simply because it’s still early days.

He adds: “Although there have been some negative reactions from the open-source community, I think these worries mainly focus on the legacy view of Microsoft. But in recent years, it’s been doing more to embrace this community, so the general message is that just wait to see what happens and don’t panic. Microsoft and Github have both clearly stated that the company will remain independent and support all technologies, languages and platforms.”

Looking ahead

Senior engineer Ed Dipple expects much of the Github platform to stay the same, despite the significance of the acquisition. But there could be some changes with Microsoft products. He says: “When it comes to training, I suspect things won’t change that much. Microsoft is more likely to take a hands-off approach when it comes to the functionality of Github.

“However, where things will change is improved integration with other Microsoft services. I imagine that, in terms of training opportunities, we’ll probably be getting more GIT requests from Microsoft as a company. To be honest, I was quite surprised that the acquisition had taken place.”

However, Tom Beavan – head of partnerships – believes that the acquisition will bring new opportunities to companies like DevOpsGuys. In particular, he sees potential around improving existing relationships. “We’ll continue to develop a deep and strategic partnership with Microsoft, focusing on DevOps and the cloud to drive customer success,” he says.

“DevOpsGuys also works very closely GitHub to deliver training, engineering and consultancy to clients. The acquisition will allow us to further develop relationships and strengthen bonds between all three parties by working collaboratively to deliver new products and services in a bid to help build and create high-performance IT with our customers.”

Clearly, Microsoft’s acquisition of Github raises a number of questions for users and the wider technology industry. From a business perspective, it’ll give Microsoft complete autonomy over a valuable platform and give Github access to an extensive funding stream. While some people are concerned about the news, it’s clear that the deal is still in the early stages and that things could easily change in the coming months.

Image credit: Ben Scholzen/Flickr

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