Microsoft seems to have gone ahead and acquired a company that had become a bit of an institution in modern software development.
Bloomberg reports that Microsoft has agreed to acquire Github, and a formal announcement could be made today. Github had been founded in 2008, and since then had become one of the most popular tools for developers to manage their code. While it’s not yet clear how much Microsoft will pay for Github, Github was valued at $2 billion (Rs. 13,000 crore) in 2015.
Github allows developers to manage their code, letting them easily share their code through public repositories, and help multiple developers work on the same project through version control. As of 2018, GitHub has 27 million users and over 57 million repositories, which made it the largest host of source code in the world. Apart from individual developers and startups, many large corporations, including Microsoft itself, use Github to share and work on their code.
And this acquisition will likely allow Microsoft an even bigger entry into people’s professional lives. It already has its suite of Office products that are used by companies the world over, and in 2016, it had acquired LinkedIn, which enabled it to control the biggest social network of working professionals. Programming is one of the skills that is quickly becoming ever more popular in the knowledge economy, and through its acquisition of Github, Microsoft will be able to oversee one of the most prominent places on the internet where developers congregate and work.
For Github’s founders, the acquisition will be be a climax of a 10-year journey that appeared to be losing some steam. Github might have been the de-facto location for developers to share and upload their code, but the company wasn’t making a lot of money — it had losses of $66 million in three quarters in 2016. The company was also experiencing some growing pains — for the longest time, Github internally had flat structure where employees had no managers, and were allowed to work remotely. As the company had grown, many of these initial policies had changed to become more in line with conventional companies. Github had also been beset with management issues — in 2014, co-founder and CEO Tom Preston-Werner had resigned after complaints of harassment by a female programmer. In August 2017, it had been revealed that the company was looking to replace cofounder Chris Wanstrath as CEO after a female developer had reported discriminatory and anti-social behaviour at the company.
Github will probably be grateful to have Microsoft’s experienced hand to steady the ship. The acquisition was reportedly pushed along by none other than CEO Satya Nadella, who’d been impressed by the service. Github already has most of the world’s developers on its platform — if Microsoft doesn’t change things around too much, like it did with LinkedIn, it can have bought itself a pretty nice bit of a piece of the puzzle of the working professional’s internet.
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