Report: Microsoft in Talks to Buy GitHub

Posted on June 2, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Dev, Microsoft with 35 Comments

According to a report in Business Insider—which, admittedly, has a sketchy reputation—Microsoft recently held talks to acquire GitHub, which was most recently valued at about $2 billion.

But the report cites “people close to the companies,” which suggests multiple sources that are tied, collectively, to both Microsoft and GitHub. And CNBC appears to have confirmed the report, noting that “one person familiar with the discussions [said] that the companies had been considering a joint marketing partnership valued around $35 million, and that those discussions had progressed to a possible investment or outright acquisition.”

Business Insider also notes that Microsoft has held acquisition talks over the years with GitHub and that those talks “have grown more serious in the past few weeks.” What’s not clear is whether those talks are still ongoing, a point to which CNBC agrees. In other words, this deal might have come and gone.

That said, some heavy-hitters are in line to run GitHub, regardless of what happens. Google senior VP of ads and commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy is in the running for the CEO job. And Business Insider says that Microsoft’s Nat Friedman, a co-founder of Xamarin, might run GitHub should a Microsoft investment or acquisition occur.

So what’s GitHub?

GitHub is a web-based repository and version control system for software projects. It’s used by developers to store and share software code, and it has emerged as a central tool for developers all of kinds. As part of its evolving stance on interoperability with the outside world, Microsoft first embraced GitHub years ago and it now offers deep integration with the service via its Visual Studio tools.

 

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Comments (37)

37 responses to “Report: Microsoft in Talks to Buy GitHub”

  1. dcdevito

    OSS devs will just start a new one. This is a completely pointless move

  2. pderosa

    The people on GitHub hate Microsoft intensely and they will just leave. Two thirds of commits there are from Macs. Even if Microsoft improves the service dramatically people will just leave. People love Visual Studio Code. They love SQL Server for Linux. They love WSL. All of that is great and they choose to use it. But if GitHub is bought by Microsoft then that is forced upon all of them. Developers are going to have a fit. The entire open source world is about choice and it has almost exclusively come about in opposition to Microsoft.


    This acquisition might look good to business and marketing people, but to the vast majority of the developer world this going to be perceived as a personal attack. People might even abandon other Microsoft offerings because of this.



    • skane2600

      In reply to pderosa:

      If the result was that somebody came up with a more well thought out VCS, that would be good. Linus is obviously a smart guy, but git is more complicated than it needs to be. Even smart developers can benefit from a design review.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to pderosa:


      Forcing these community into any of the Titans harms its not what the community wants or needs !!!!!!!


      The only reason to sell to these Titans would be for investors and co-foundees to cashing in (exit strategy). Nothing else.


      The only reason to either MS and Google buy this product is to force their products and services into the community (Ads and much more). None of this serves the interests of its users.

      • William Kempf

        In reply to nbplopes:

        Microsoft (or Google, Apple, etc.) buying GitHub doesn't have to mean forcing anyone into their arms. Microsoft could well OpenSource a good portion of GitHub, eliminating this perception, and it really is just a perception. A DVCS is so easy to move, that honestly no one should ever be concerned about who owns a particular site. (I know I'm glossing this over a little, as GitHub is more than just a VCS, but the reality here stands, it's easy to move.) By the same token, no owner should ever be stupid enough to do something that will alienate their users, as they can so easily move. It's these reasons that I think making it OpenSource under a vendor with deep pockets just makes sense for everyone.


  3. Jules Wombat

    Don't Do It Microsoft ! A majority of GitHub users still hate Microsoft through narrow arcane rationale.

    Invest in supporting GitHub if you have to, but buying them out will just see the platform evaporate, as the users move to alternatives.

  4. nbplopes

    Please, please don't do it Github. Please don't, not to Microsoft or Google. Keep yourself independent from Titan software houses.


    "GitHub is a web-based repository and version control system for software projects."


    Its much more than that. Much more. It is the main cloud for open source software across the globe.

    • skane2600

      In reply to nbplopes:

      I think it's worth remembering that neither git nor github existed for the majority of time that open source has existed. A little diversity wouldn't hurt IMO.

      • nbplopes

        In reply to skane2600:


        I agree. But MS had its own Git kind of repository that did not work for a reason as well. I don’t see how MS squiring helps diversity.


        There are indeed alternatives but this one stood the test of time and was welcomed by the opens source community like no other, not the one done by MS for instance. MS acquisitions in my opinion usually destroys what makes a venture special. It has happened over and over again.


        Its not so much about MS. I think if either Google or Apple bought it, some people would be uncomfortable.


        Just my 2 cents. Either way there will be always another Github, I can see them coming just in case. Maybe this runout becomes a catalyst.


  5. glenn8878

    Microsoft turns good businesses into write offs.

    • RR

      In reply to glenn8878:

      GitHub isn't "a good business", Bloomberg reports it had revenues of $98 million and lost $66 million for 9 months where they could get the data in 2016. The valuation off those numbers was $2B, which is like another way of being behind the 8 ball, you have to find someone willing to >$2B+ for VCs while your business metrics justify nothing of the sort, before any founders and employees get a penny. Another silly SF area unicorn. And oh, they have now been looking for a CEO for the past 9 months. No takers.This is almost literal definition of a bad business.

      They are obviously looking for a savior. And these days Silicon Valley companies that need that and still want to get paid have one preferred address of a company (desperately?) looking to get good with Silicon Valley. This particular seller with it's developers developers developers customers is almost like too on the nose. But the customers who have been subsidized all along by VC money and are about to be subsidized by Microsoft shareholder money will only bitch and moan. What else are they gonna do.

  6. rameshthanikodi

    does github actually make money? what's in it for MS?

  7. AKAJoelReed

    This interesting to me. It seems this would compete with Microsoft's own Visual Studio Team Services online repository tooling/collaboration. I've not used either extensively but VSTS does seem to echo more of proper "Visual Studio" IDE everything and the kitchen sink mentality, whereas GitHub seems more in line with more modern Visual Studio Code, "lean but extensible" focused product. It would be interesting to see how something like this would shake out. I know some traditional open source types heads would explode over this.

  8. skane2600

    I've always found it ironic that GitHub is a centralized location to store software versions using a VCS who's major claim to fame was the fact it's decentralized.

    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to skane2600:

      I've always found it ironic that GitHub is a centralized location to store software versions using a VCS who's major claim to fame was the fact it's decentralized.


      Technically it is just another endpoint for your code. The act of adding it to Github doesn’t negate that git is decentralized by nature. It just gives you a (very smart) node where the code resides.


      Comparing it to something like Subversion (which is centralized by design) should help make the distinction.

  9. ProgrammerAl

    I see a lot of people stuck in the 90s making comments on this (Twitter and other sites). But the interesting bit I haven't seen a lot of is that it's also Microsoft buying a company that competes with their own product (VSTS).


    My concern is that if this happens it could be another Microsoft TODO mess where they don't add any new features for a few years because they're moving it from AWS to Azure.

    • Usman

      In reply to ProgrammerAl:

      The whole VSTS thing also confuses me too, IMO they have compelling offering with VSTS and buying GitHub could cause double offerings and yes be a similar issue with TODO.


      I prefer VSTS because of certain use cases, comparing merge changes, code searching are IMO better than GitHub, it'll be interesting to see how things will play out, be it parallel or killing of one of the products.

  10. Lateef Alabi-Oki

    This will piss off a lot of FLOSS projects hosted in GitHub. I hope this isn't true. I'd much rather Google buys them.

    • jrickel96

      In reply to mystilleef:

      GitHub wouldn't help Google's mission to gather as much personal data to push ads, so it's not a likely target. Google still has to figure out how to survive in a big incarnation if Privacy laws are enacted everywhere and not just in the EU. Currently they are doing well with the new standards relatively, but are also having to serve A LOT more non-personalized ads where they cannot verify consent for targeted ads. There's also a concern for smaller ad platforms that I suspect will cause limits to be placed on Google's platform.


      And this is why GitHub is a sideways step for them. Right now they have to navigate GPDR in Europe and be prepared for taking a hit in the third quarter (second quarter is likely to only show a slight hit in EU operations), so GitHub would not be a major concern.


      Remember that all Google's platforms are about gathering data that can be monetized in ads. Google is an ad company, not a tech company. The consumer IS the product for Google, like it is for Amazon or Wal-Mart, except both those companies sell physical wares whereas Google sells personal data via ad placement.


      As privacy laws are enacted, I expect Google will have a harder time maximizing ad profits and either will have to increase fees on their services or increase volume of ads to compensate (which they've been doing for years as the per click $ has declined) or they will shrink significantly and lose or abandon most of their other platforms. I expect the latter over the next five years or so, we'll begin to see Google's market cap and profits decline and the company will begin downsizing.

      • Lateef Alabi-Oki

        In reply to jrickel96:


        Google is going to be the least affected by the GDPR because it's the most prepared for it.


        While other companies are scrambling to adhere to the GDPR, Google for almost half a decade, already provided granular privacy controls to all its users.


        In fact, the GDPR changed and changes nothing for Google.


        Meanwhile, most companies don't even have a privacy and security dashboard. And barely have the resources to implement one.


        Heck, Microsoft only recently implemented theirs. And from what I've seen it's still not as granular or exhaustive as what Google provides.


        As for GitHub, the FLOSS community trusts Google way more than Microsoft. Historically speaking Google has always been a generous supporter and proponent of FLOSS. And if we're honest, a better steward of open source projects in light of the fact that they've always open sourced their development tools.


        Microsoft, on the other hand, well, let's just say there are a work in progress.

        • jrickel96

          In reply to mystilleef:

          It changes everything for Google.


          Talk in the industry is that Google is beginning its fade. It already is beginning to fade in cloud. IBM is storming in and aggressively hitting Google there. There've also been significant givebacks this year in headway made with G-Suite. Per click revenue has been in decline and may hit freefall soon.


          Just because ready does not mean you are not going to take a hit. They need people to assent to targeted ads. They didn't need that before. Even if 50% say yes, that will cause a significant revenue decline as targeted ads are replaced with general ads. We don't know what the decline rate is right now. What is only 15% say they want targeted ads? Google could be getting most of those, but they had the WHOLE pie before GPDR.


          Projections are that European profits can fall by 50% or better - and we'll see when they report their third quarter results at the end of the year. If profits plummet by 50% or more in Europe, it means GPDR will be devastating to Google if it is enacted globally. Still a big company, but a shadow of its current self and far less capable to use ads to subsidize its services.

        • skane2600

          In reply to mystilleef:

          Regardless of how much preparation Google thinks they have made for the GDPR an 8.8 billion dollar lawsuit for violating the GDPR hardly puts Google in the position of being "least affected".

          • Lateef Alabi-Oki

            In reply to skane2600:

            You mean the frivolous lawsuit sponsored and funded by Google's competition.


            It won't be long before other tech companies are targeted. I expect Microsoft and Apple to be hit next.


            Again GDPR is going to be nuisance for everybody but Google. It has the resources to fight this nonsense. It's not their first rodeo.

            • jrickel96

              In reply to mystilleef:

              This nonsense? Personal privacy is nonsense? It is to a company like Google that seeks to invade privacy.


              We'll see how that lawsuit goes and profits go in the third quarter.


              Microsoft actually sells product, Google sells your private information. People can trust Google if they like, but I find them to be the least trustworthy company out there. Most large businesses I work with avoid them as much as possible. They prefer to deal with MS, Apple, and Amazon.

            • skane2600

              In reply to mystilleef:

              Whether the lawsuit is frivolous or not is a matter of opinion but it's absurd to claim that it won't at a minimum be a nuisance for Google. It's worth remembering that some of the lawsuits that resulted from Microsoft's anti-trust problems were frivolous as well, but MS lost anyway.

  11. curtisspendlove

    blog.github.com/2018-06-04-github-microsoft/


    Apparently the “talks” were very short. ;)

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