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June 5, 2018

Microsoft’s GitHub Deal: The Smart and the Smarting

GitHub founders now own more stock than Microsoft CEO; 13,000 developers jump ship in an hour; Twitter goes full snark

By CBR Staff Writer

It’s fair to say that Github’s sale to Microsoft has divided opinion.

The $7.5 billion all-stock deal will make GitHub’s three founders some of Microsoft’s biggest individual shareholders.

If an EquityZen analysis is correct, their roughly 12.3 million Microsoft shares (if split three ways) would give them ten times more shares than the company’s own CEO Satya Nadella. Congratulations have, naturally, flown in thick and fast.

“Abandon Ship!”

Not all developers are convinced. Some 13,000 (admittedly a drop in the GitHub ocean of 30 million monthly active users) abandoned ship for rival GitLab in a single hour.

Why? Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once called open source a “cancer” and the company has been a vociferous defender of proprietary software in the past. (Also, few favour Skype since Microsoft bought it…)

Yes, that was a long time ago. Yes, Microsoft has changed (CEO Satya Nadella proclaiming “I love open source” in 2014 and the company now contributing to a broad range of open source projects, including the Linux Foundation’s Node.js Foundation, OpenDaylight, Open Container Initiative, R Consortium and Open API Initiative.) But yes, developer memories would put an elephant to shame.

Opinion is far from unanimous: Computer Business Review was sitting down with CloudBees CEO Sacha Labourey when the news broke. He said: “The New Microsoft totally gets developers. They contribute more to open source than Google and Amazon, combined! They are doing amazing open source work (for example, Code and Helm).”

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Wounds take a while to heal however and Twitter snark has flowed thick and fast over the past 24 hours. We believe these five tweets below capture the debate.

1) Steve Martinelli doesn’t have a bright vision of the future…

2) Just the faintest soupcon of sarcasm below from the ‘Hipster Hacker’?

(Others had the same idea: as Kyle Neath put it: “When you think about it, Git on the blockchain could be a real game changer. Finally, decentralized version control that’s both slow, expensive, AND difficult to understand.”)

Some more sober reflections… 

And a more charitable view… 

Microsoft gets some respect… 

An insight into Microsoft’s motivation

Finally, one Microsoft team member had a droll take… (GitHub is free to use for public and open source projects; others need to pay up).

GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath was emphatic, meanwhile, that his team had done the right thing: “Microsoft’s work on open source has inspired us, the success of the Minecraft and LinkedIn acquisitions has shown us they are serious about growing new businesses well, and the growth of Azure has proven they are an innovative development platform.”

He added: “We both believe GitHub needs to remain an open platform for all developers. No matter your language, stack, platform, cloud, or license, GitHub will continue to be your home—the best place for software creation, collaboration, and discovery.”


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