Advertise with BNC

Microsoft takeover of Github a change of tack away from Facebook

Under its CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has undergone a cultural shift since 2014 and ramped up its open-source efforts which started in 2006 with its CodePlex community.

Rumour of the move had been swirling around the media since at least Friday and the reaction in Microsoft’s share price since has been a positive endorsement, up nearly 3 percent while the S&P500 index was up just 1.45 percent. Initial reaction from the coding community of course was fear that Github will go the way of Skype which was acquired for $8.5b by Microsoft in 2011 at its high-water mark from where it has rapidly receded.

However, blaming Microsoft for Skype’s decline belies the fact that the technology was already a decade old and the company found itself in one of the most competitive sectors in tech – social media – that far outstripped its pace of innovation.

Reddit has been awash with odes to the open access community-driven spirit that Github has embodied since 2008 that some speculate could be monetized and there have been threats of users migrating en mass to the code repository alternative GitLab.

Big tech’s change of tack

But taking an alternative view, could this be Microsoft’s statement of intent to preserve the spirit of the open-source community and even take it further?

Afterall, Microsoft has been a dedicated contributor of repositories to Github and its staff have no doubt benefited greatly from the resource while working on projects. This collaborative approach isn’t out of character either as Microsoft is also the fifth largest contributor to the open source Linux 3.0.

What is more surprising is that it is also a major contributor to Kubernetes the open-source container-orchestration system designed by Google, now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

micro github

Under its CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has undergone a cultural shift since 2014. Although its open-source efforts started in 2006 when it launched the CodePlex community, its then CEO Steve Ballmer had been on record calling the Linux Foundation “a cancer” back in 2001.

The company has moved to make many of its top tools open-source, including  PowerShellVisual Studio Code, and Microsoft Edge’s JavaScript engine. In contrast to his predecessor, Satya Nadella has appeared under a “Microsoft Loves Linux” banner.

Microsoft and Google are the companies with the most staff contributing to open-source projects, far ahead even of IBM which has been an exemplar for years.

open source contri

Top contributors of staff to open-source projects.    Source: Infoworld 

Facebook “sorry not sorry”

In comparison to the other players in the big tech league Satya Nadella said that he believes Microsoft is “on the right side of history”, when compared to the data and ad-driven businesses of many of its peers.

Being a service-based company its strategy is more aligned with the interests of its customers unlike Facebook or even Google whose rentier strategy of extracting data from its users puts their interests at odds with those of their tenants.

Meanwhile, Facebook still appears to be going in the opposite direction after another revelation on Monday in the New York Times about its handling of users personal data in agreements with 60 third-party smartphone makers about what information they could access.

It turns out it was far more than necessary as device makers like Apple and Samsung were able to see information like people’s religious affiliations, event attendance and data from the Facebook accounts of the user’s friends.

Also on Monday Apple, not for the first time, took the chance to distance itself from data harvesting practices and announced an update for their Safari browser to show a pop-up message asking users for permission before loading share buttons on social media, including Facebook’s like button.


Facebook’s reply to the Times’ investigation was a rebuttal, similar to its initial reaction to the Cambridge Analytica story until it got so big it was cornered into an apology.  At the time Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said that he "wouldn’t be in this situation" if he were in Mark Zuckerberg’s shoes. The Facebook CEO called the criticism " extremely glib."

It seems like tech companies which generate revenue from selling hardware products are making an effort to demarcate their ethics and practices from those that make their coin by selling ads targeted with detailed information about users – usually its own users.

In this sense it could be a good thing that Github has fallen into the hands of a company that is at least invested in preserving the open source world and its interests are aligned with the development of software and programs that can add value to their hardware products, and not extract it from those who use it.

Follow @AndrewBNC

Microsoft’s takeover of code repository Github in an all-stock deal worth $7.5b may have sent shivers up the spines of many contributors to the software developing platform but it has had the opposite effect on Microsoft investors and its brand image.


BNC AdvertisingPlanning your 2024 crypto-media spend? Brave New Coin’s combined website, podcast, newsletters and YouTube channel deliver over 500,000 brand impressions a month to engaged crypto fans worldwide.
Don’t miss out – Find out more today

Advertise with BNC
Advertise with BNC
BNC Newsletters: A weekly digest of the most important news and analysis.
Advertise with BNC
Submit an event on
Latest Insights More
Advertise with BNC