How GitHub Was Created and Sold for $7.5 Billion

GitHub was founded in 2008 by Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath, PJ Hyett, and Scott Chacon.

The idea was to create a platform that made it easier for developers to collaborate on projects using Git, a version control system created by Linus Torvalds.

The goal was to provide a web-based interface for Git, along with additional features like access control, bug tracking, task management, and wikis for every project.

The founders aimed to create a community where developers could not only manage their code but also collaborate and share their work with others.

This vision resonated with many in the software development community, leading to rapid adoption of the platform.

Scaling: growth and expansion

GitHub quickly gained traction, attracting developers from all over the world. By providing a user-friendly interface and a suite of collaboration tools, it became the go-to platform for code sharing and management. The key factors that contributed to GitHub’s scaling included:

  1. Community building: GitHub fostered a vibrant community by allowing developers to contribute to open-source projects. This community-centric approach helped in building a strong network of users who actively promoted the platform.
  2. Ease of use: The intuitive design and powerful features of GitHub made it accessible to both novice and experienced developers. Features like pull requests, forks, and issues became essential tools for collaborative software development.
  3. Integration and ecosystem: GitHub integrated seamlessly with other development tools and services, enhancing its functionality and making it an integral part of the software development lifecycle. This integration allowed developers to use GitHub alongside their existing workflows, further driving its adoption.
  4. Enterprise solutions: Recognizing the needs of larger organizations, GitHub introduced GitHub Enterprise, a self-hosted version of the platform. This move opened up new revenue streams and allowed GitHub to cater to businesses with specific security and compliance requirements.

Acquisition: Joining forces with Microsoft

As GitHub continued to grow, it attracted the attention of major tech companies. In June 2018, Microsoft announced its acquisition of GitHub for $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. The acquisition was seen as a strategic move by Microsoft to strengthen its developer tools and services ecosystem.

The decision to sell to Microsoft was influenced by several factors:

  1. Shared vision: Microsoft and GitHub shared a common vision of empowering developers and fostering innovation. Under the leadership of Satya Nadella, Microsoft had shifted its focus towards open-source technologies and cloud services, making the acquisition a natural fit.
  2. Resources and support: Joining Microsoft provided GitHub with access to vast resources and expertise. This support enabled GitHub to scale further and enhance its offerings, benefiting the developer community at large.
  3. Independence: Despite the acquisition, GitHub retained its operational independence. This autonomy ensured that the core values and mission of GitHub remained intact while benefiting from Microsoft’s backing.

Conclusion

GitHub’s journey from a startup to a tech giant is a testament to the power of community and collaboration.

By creating a platform that made it easy for developers to work together, GitHub revolutionized software development and became an indispensable tool for millions of developers worldwide.

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