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Four years after being purchased by Microsoft, GitHub continues to operate

On this day four years ago, Microsoft finalised its purchase of GitHub, which was mostly used as a code repository at the time. Since integrating CI/CD tools in the form of GitHub Actions and Codespaces as an online editor and computing platform, as well as a number of security measures, GitHub has undergone a significant transformation. However, GitHub’s current CEO, Thomas Dohmke, who replaced Nat Friedman a year ago, claims that Microsoft has mostly given GitHub free reign to focus on its strengths.

He explained to me that Microsoft had “kept GitHub GitHub,” so that it would continue to function independently within the company as LinkedIn does. I’m quite proud of the fact that we were able to keep GitHub unchanged while doing this. We’ve been able to sustain our rapid expansion thanks in large part to the fact that GitHub.com now has fewer Microsoft employees than it did four years ago.

He mentioned that GitHub has always had the backing of Microsoft’s top brass, including CEO Satya Nadella. “Microsoft has not forgotten the foundations of the arrangement or the reasons we entered into it in the first place. As a first and main premise, developers should always come first. And we do it every day,” Dohmke emphasised.

He did, however, note that Microsoft is a big organisation, and that different people may have different expectations for Microsoft’s relationship with GitHub. To now, however, it appears that the leadership on both sides has been successful in quashing such thoughts.

Dohmke remarked that GitHub is a clear beneficiary of Microsoft’s sales expertise, which has allowed the company to acquire a lot of large contracts. This undoubtedly contributed to the company’s stated $1 billion in yearly recurring income yesterday. Dohmke has stated that he is confident GitHub would have achieved this milestone had it remained a standalone business.

“I like to look on the bright side of things,” he stated. So, any business may succeed provided its leaders are dedicated to the task at hand. When a company reaches a certain scale, narrowing its attention to a single goal becomes its greatest obstacle.

It’s clear that GitHub’s current status is different from that of even four years ago. One way in which it has grown is via the addition of new products and services, such as CodeSpaces and most recently, Copilot. “I think I will have completed my purpose as CEO if we produce happy developers,” said Dohmke. “Happy developers that like doing their job and that don’t regard security, compliance, and accessibility as a burden but as part of what makes them happy and what causes them to perform in their life.” As such, it’s evident that initiatives like this one contribute to that goal.

He went on to say that they were disrupting themselves with AI, Copilot, and Codespaces. All of these projects are “new investments” that “keep pushing the boundaries of what we feel is achievable” and “are different from the classic GitHub,” or “the old-school GitHub that had repos and problems and wikis.”

However, he also emphasised the need of paying attention to the nitty-gritty tweaks and improvements that may be just as crucial to keep developers happy as the major announcements and showy events. Our ability to successfully manage both incremental improvements and more fundamental changes to our business model has been described as “our superpower.”