Microsoft officially announced its plan to acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion on Monday, as the Redmond giant continues its push to reverse years of open source aversion. Microsoft is already the largest GitHub contributor, and the acquisition could win it some influence in the open source community, but the impact on the company's relationship with developers is less clear.
However, there is hidden value in this deal that is critical to Microsoft's future: Visibility. By syncing developer profile pages on GitHub with user profile data on LinkedIn, Microsoft could give itself a massive advantage in both talent and innovation visibility.
For recruiters and hiring managers, two of the most important sources of information on a prospective developer hire are their LinkedIn profile and GitHub user profile. Now, Microsoft has access to both, which could possibly make it easier for the firm to analyze patterns around what the top contributors are working on, pre-empting tech trends and giving it a competitive advantage.
SEE: Hiring kit: User experience specialist (Tech Pro Research)
In theory, Microsoft could also use machine learning and related technologies to link the top contributors of certain projects with the firm they work for. If successful, Microsoft could get a clearer picture of what their competition is working on, and potentially even what specialties they're hiring for.
Of course, this all must be done correctly. As noted by ZDNet's Larry Dignan, many folks in the developer community have railed against the idea of Microsoft owning GitHub, but there's a very real possibility that Microsoft could allow the platform to run independently, much like what it did with LinkedIn. GitHub is not known as a money maker—it lost $66 million in just a few months of 2016—so improving Microsoft's rapport with developers seems to be the clear intention of the deal.
Regardless, the deal has major implications for developer career management, as noted by TechRepublic's James Sanders, especially for those wishing to avoid the Microsoft ecosystem. No matter how this plays out, it's abundantly clear that open source will continue to be a huge part of Microsoft's strategy in the future.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- Microsoft has agreed to buy GitHub for $7.5 billion, giving the tech giant access to more data on developers and open source projects.
- Access to GitHub data could improve Microsoft's talent visibility and give it a competitive edge among its peers.
- Hiring kit: User experience specialist (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft's Github acquisition: It's all about developer relationships, influence (ZDNet)
- GitHub: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft buys GitHub for $7.5 billion (ZDNet)
- If Microsoft buying GitHub freaks you out, here are your best alternatives (TechRepublic)
- Will Microsoft buying GitHub change the future of apps? (Download.com)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.