Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella asks Silicon Valley to give it a chance before it gets mad over the company's $7.5 billion purchase of GitHub

  • Microsoft is buying GitHub for $US7.5 billion.
  • The news is causing some angst for programmers – GitHub is the center of the world of open source software development, and Microsoft has a history of treating open source like the enemy.
  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella tried to reassure developers that it’s a new day, a new Microsoft, and the company has no intention of closing GitHub off.

On Monday, Microsoft announced the $US7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub – a site that 24 million programmers all over the world rely upon to team up and build software.

The news has caused some angst for developers: For the last ten years, GitHub has been the center of the open source software world, where global teams work together to manage and maintain free software projects. Meanwhile, Microsoft spent much of the ’90s and ’00s treating open source as a dire and immediate threat to its business.

But Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has a message for those developers:

“When it comes to our commitment to open source, judge us by the actions we have taken in the recent past, our actions today and in the future,” Nadella said in a conference call discussing the acquisition.

To his point: It didn’t take long after Nadella took the reigns in 2014 for him to declare that “Microsoft loves Linux,” the free open source operating system that today powers many server rooms and data centres all over the world. Microsoft has since invested heavily in open source, including acquiring open source startups. Indeed, Microsoft is the most active open source developer on GitHub today.

“We love developers, and we love open source developers,” Nadella reiterated on the call.

Nadella also wants developers to know that while Microsoft does have plans to integrate its software and services with GitHub, it’s also not planning on locking it down to only work with Microsoft technology.

“Most importantly, we recognise the responsibility we take on with this agreement,” Nadella said. “We are committed to being stewards of the GitHub community – which will retain its developer-first ethos, operate independently and remain an open platform.”

Chris Wanstrath, the outgoing CEO and cofounder of GitHub, was also on the call, and had a similar message of reassurance for the community.

“GitHub will continue to be your home,” Wanstrath said. He also said that Microsoft presented “the right home and the right future for GitHub.”

GitHub will continue to operate as a standalone entity after the deal closes, with Microsoft VP Nat Friedman taking over as CEO of GitHub after the deal closes. Friedman, for his part, said on that call that he’s excited to get started with GitHub when the deal closes later this year.

“GitHub is, to me, the most important developer-first company in the world,” Friedman said.

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