In fact, Microsoft was not the only potential buyer in the weeks of trading negotiations. Google,AmazonAlso throw an olive branch to GitHub. Of course, there are apples for developer resources. But in the end why did you choose Microsoft?
This problem is not simple, although there are many kinds of arguments at present, some people think that Microsoft wants to integrate GitHub to narrow the gap between Azure Cloud and Amazon AWS, but also that Microsoft is embracing open source to win the hearts of developers.
These views are merely representational and not exhaustive. We try to uncover the logic behind the GitHub takeover from the nature of GitHub, the philosophy of the developer world, and the differences in the pattern of technology companies.
The dual nature of GitHub's essence: software engineering and open source philosophy
GitHub is not an ordinary communitywebsiteIt has a significant position in the developer world. It has two attributes: the tooling of software engineering and the social nature of open source collaboration. This special nature determines the influence of the GitHub takeover case is much greater than the previous LinkedIn, although the latter's transaction amount is much higher than the former.
The book "Myth of Man-Month," published in 1975, was regarded by the developers as the "Bible" of software engineering. The central idea of the book pointed out that the human input to software development is not linearly related to the time of completion, but it is a case where the progress is backward. Additional manpower often causes the project progress to lag behind. Because developers are a special group, they have different abstract thinking. It is like having a group of artists with different styles collaborate together. The communication cost is extremely high and the efficiency is extremely low. The author of the book published the classic paper “No Silver Bullet” in IEEE in 1986 to express the helplessness of this major problem in software engineering.
Later software history changed. In the 1990s, when the open source movement began, the collaborative model of software development changed. In 1997, the famous programmer Eric Raymond published the long-form "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" and published a book. The book sparked a shock in the open source community and was considered by the programmers. Raymond became famous. The spirit of the open source movement.
The "Cathedral and Market" explained the fission of the free software development model from the perspective of developer philosophy. This philosophy has since evolved further. Later, people used to adapt the "Cathedonian model" directly to Microsoft's engineering team. In that era, Microsoft It even became synonymous with "Cathedral." The corresponding “market model” is different from the software project controlled by the dedicated team. The source code is open to the Internet during the development process, allowing enough people to see the source code and participate in collaboration so that the software error is nowhere to be seen.
GitHub is a software source code hosting site that uses Git for version control. Its relationship with Git is equivalent to online platforms and stand-alone tools. Version control is an important part of software engineering, and the tool of GitHub is embodied in quality assurance and defect tracking management. For developers, this is a rare weapon. In addition, another important attribute of GitHub is the integration of the social functions of the developer community, and this special social networking is based on open source collaboration, which is the aforementioned "market model".
The purpose of open source is to eliminate software errors and improve software quality. GitHub has grown into the world's largest open source community with 28 million registered users and 85 million code-managed libraries. The growth of GitHub verifies the changes in the history of software. It is not known whether the author of “The Myth of Man-Month” will consider the “no silver bullet” in the history of software engineering when he sees the power of open source and the number of collaborations. in conclusion. Perhaps this is in itself an old legend, and the results of open source are still flowing.
GitHub is a lever, Microsoft has reasons to have to buy it
The GitHub takeover case triggered some of the open source people's resistance to Microsoft's move. The reason was that Microsoft once represented the “Cathedral Model”. This is contrary to open source philosophy. Second, there are still many developers because of Ballmer’s era of Microsoft's open source. The enemy’s attitude is ambiguous. Although Nadella's Microsoft has shown great sincerity, from. Net open source to VS open, Microsoft is by far the largest source code contributor on GitHub. But now, in the face of the largest open source community, Microsoft needs to win more trust.
According to sources, Microsoft's offer exceeds 25 times GitHub's annual revenue, which is why Google, the largest potential buyer besides itself, has conceived in an instant.
Why does Microsoft have to struggle to please the open source community and not hesitate to purchase GitHub, instead of just hosting the source code on GitHub like Google and Apple's peers before, is direct acquisition seem dispensable? After all, the open source community is not an ordinary consumer, nor is it like social networking in LinkedIn, but a hard-to-serve group of developers. Behind this there must be a reason why Microsoft has to buy.
Microsoft Windows was once the ruler of the PC era, and it became an apple in the mobile era.iPhoneAnd Google Android two-point world pattern. There is an essential difference here. This "essence" does not refer to the relationship between PC and mobile, but Windows is Microsoft's biggest ecosystem. Compared with iPhone/Android, it lacks an important thing. This thing tentatively called it "leverage."
Ben Thompson, the author of the well-known technology blog stratechery, put forward the concept of “Bill Gates Line”. Platforms, developers, and users are bottom-up connections. Users pay for services provided by developers. Developers are associated with the platform. Platform ecology is robust. From this point of view, Thompson believes that the Windows operating system can be regarded as the "ultimate platform," because super third parties such as Steam were born on top of it.
Thompson also believes that the Apple iPhone and Google Android are not real platforms but aggregators. In particular, the existence of the Apple app store has reduced the iOS platform to the "Bill Gates Line," making it a user-developer relationship. Mediator. Since the aggregator controls the economics of the platform, it becomes the magnetic pole that third-party developers have to gather together.
This well-known aggregator is in addition to the app store, Google Chrome, and Facebook. Although Microsoft also has Azure Cloud, its aggregation developers are far less sophisticated than the former.
In the current industry landscape, cloud and AI are accompanied by new core competition values. Microsoft needs more developers to help build its ecological foundation under its new strategy of “smart cloud and smart edge”. Although the Windows platform has a large and inexpensive group of developers, developers in emerging areas are extremely expensive.
Developers can bring users, users pay for developers to generate revenue. Therefore, there is no future for a platform without users, and GitHub is a lever that can shake users because it has a huge number of developers. GitHub is not a strong demand for Google, Apple, because it will "collide" with the aggregator owned by the latter; and the most needed leverage is Microsoft.
This is the reason why Microsoft had to buy GitHub at a high price of 7.5 billion. Direct purchase of consumers is much more expensive than using leverage.
According to the situation so far after the acquisition of LinkedIn, Microsoft is likely to give GitHub its own independent operation and open style in the future, and will be able to empower it in the near future.cloud serviceAnd productivity.
GitHub is not an ordinary website. It is a community of developers, an open source community, and more than 20 million people who can generate social value. The acquisition of GitHub means that Microsoft must take more social responsibility.
I hope that the marriage between Microsoft and GitHub will be a long time ago, and I wish the open-source business can run smoothly.
Chen Xuyi Senior Engineer, Technical Columnist, Member of the Chinese Computer Society. Major authors such as "Communication World", "Microcomputer", "Creative World", "Zhongguancun" and other mainstream journals.