Microsoft completes GitHub acquisition, promises not to screw things up

Microsoft made waves in the open source community when it announced this past summer that it was acquiring GitHub, the leading software development platform with 85 million repositories and more than 31 million developers contributing to them. Now nearly five months later, the $7.5 billion acquisition is complete. This officially marks a new era for GitHub.

If you're skeptical about the future of GitHub, you're not alone. Microsoft says not to worry though, saying it will "retain its developer-first ethos, operate independently, and remain an open platform."

Going forward, Nat Friedman, former CEO of Xamarin (acquired by Microsoft in 2016) will serve as GitHub's CEO and report to Scott Guthrie, executive VP of Microsoft's cloud and AI group. In a separate blog post, Friedman doubled down on Microsoft's promise not to mess things up.

"Ultimately, my job is to make GitHub better for you," Friedman said.

Friedman outline three main objectives for the future of GitHub. The first is making GitHub the best place to run productive communities and teams, which many would argue it already is. Secondly, Friedman wants to expand GitHub's footprint by making it accessible to more developers around the world. Finally, there's the familiar "reliability, security, and performance" trio.

"We will start by focusing on the daily experience of using GitHub and will double down on our paper cuts project. We will improve core scenarios like search, notifications, issues/projects, and our mobile experience. And of course we are excited to make GitHub Actions broadly available," Friedman said.

Buying GitHub ranks as Microsoft's second largest transaction behind LinkedIn since Satya Nadella took over as CEO, replacing former boss Steve Ballmer (who now owns the NBA team Los Angeles Clippers). It's a huge play, though not one that came out of nowhere—around a year and a half ago, Microsoft shuttered what was then its own version of GitHub called CodePlex, and encouraged developers to move their projects to GitHub.

How this plays out obviously remains to be seen, but at least Microsoft is saying all the right things.