Insight Bite: Microsoft boosts its developer credentials with GitHub deal

Microsoft has confirmed it has acquired GitHub, the code-sharing service, for $7.5 billion in stock.

GitHub is the biggest host of source code in the world, currently boasting about 28 million developers in its community, and 85 million code repositories. The company has, however, never turned a profit.

“Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. “We recognise 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.”

Microsoft is moving GitHub founder Chris Wanstrath into a technical role and installing its own CEO at the new acquisition, specifically Nat Friedman, currently corporate vice president. But Microsoft has stated that it intends to maintain GitHub’s independence, and it will keep the service as is: an open platform for developers.

Financially, this acquisition is not that big a deal for Microsoft. But the software giant, which is already a big contributor and supporter of open source, is likely viewing this deal as a way to improve its standing with developers. GitHub is key to how many build software today – Apple, Amazon, Google, and many other big tech companies use it. But Microsoft is already the top contributor to GitHub, and commentators have suggested the company is in a prime position to further accelerate the investments it’s already making to grow its ecosystem and make it easier than ever to build on top of GitHub.

All this means Microsoft has a real chance to make some new friends here. Critics are, however, pointing to how Microsoft hasn’t handled all its acquisitions that well (Skype, Nokia’s phone business) – so that is assuming it doesn’t botch this integration.

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