Prahlad Yeri

Freelance Programmer and Writer

Two years later, the reasons for Microsoft's Github Acquisition still remain a mystery


More than two years have passed since I shared my perspective on Microsoft's Github acquisition in this blog post earlier, and the point still stands today. Why did Microsoft decide to acquire a startup company much smaller in size which had no viable and long term revenue/profit generation model?

Github Logo

If Microsoft wanted their team to use Github in their daily work-flow, there was hardly a need to acquire the whole company in a multi billion dollar deal. Github offered free private repositories even back then (and even their premium-tier subscription should have cost peanuts for Microsoft to get it for their entire staff!).

If Microsoft wanted to sell it to enterprise clients, again much better and creative ways to do that. Brand Microsoft is several times more valuable than Brand Github in the enterprise world anyway. And those are the type of clients who would have already invested heavily in Microsoft stack, so something like Microsoft's Team Office would make a lot more sense for them than Github.

What then could have been the reason? Its still unknown but that's probably true about Microsoft's many other past acquisitions including Skype, Hotmail, Nokia and Linkedin. What exactly did Microsoft gain by each of these acquisitions? Arguably none in financial terms but perhaps that wasn't their motive at all. Perhaps they want to make a mark on the sands of time by owning some of the most popular artifacts of our times? That could also explain Microsoft getting themselves a costly seat on the board of Linux Foundation too.

Update

Some interesting perspectives from reddit about this:

A few years ago I was at a conference ’Dev ops days' where Microsoft had a presence. The Microsoft speakers were part of Microsoft's Unix/Linux team's. MS speakers talked about MS investing millions into Open source as they see it as the future. Further they discussed their teams Git commits on open source projects.

STAMINA comes to mind. A lot of "hack" code ends up on GitHub and occasionally the bits and pieces that can be turned into malware. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this is so they can use code as it appears to run through this and check code on the fly.

Listen to this : https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1OyKAYWPRrWKb Especially the bit where their AI is able to code. Any guesses how it learnt that?

Seems a bit of a stretch to buy GitHub to train a coding AI, MS do have access internally to several decades worth of code, and of course it's pretty simple to scrape code for free from all manner of open source projects and Github.

A big part of the code of the projects at Github is freely accessible. Therefore, in my opinion, Microsoft would not have had to buy Github to train the AI.

They are developing VS Code and MS Terminal on github with the github community. They wanted to secure the platform so no one could "take" it, or make it difficult for them. (Edit: it = the platform and access to the community)