The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Why Microsoft is buying GitHub in a $7.5 billion deal

Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft, speaks during the Microsoft Developers build conference in Seattle on May 7. (Grant Hindsley/Bloomberg)

Microsoft announced Monday that it will buy GitHub, the popular coding platform where developers share and collaborate on projects, for $7.5 billion worth of Microsoft stock.

The deal will strengthen the company’s relationship with developers and allow its tools to reach a broader audience within the world of open-source software, experts say. More than 28 million developers around the world use GitHub, Microsoft said, acknowledging the crucial role that developers have played in revolutionizing the modern economy.

“Today, every company is becoming a software company and developers are at the center of digital transformation,” Microsoft said in a news release.

The Redmond, Wash., company, which said it is the most active organization on GitHub, also plans to accelerate the use of the platform by businesses, relying on its sales team, existing corporate partnerships and cloud computing infrastructure.

GitHub will continue to remain an open platform that is independently operated, Microsoft said. The tech giant’s vice president of developer services, Nat Friedman, will become the new head of GitHub. The deal is expected to close later this year if it passes regulatory review.

The pending acquisition arrives at a time of explosive growth for the cloud industry. Cloud services will account for a staggering $186 billion this year — up more than 21 percent from last year — according to estimates by Gartner, an IT research firm. The industry is expected to continue to grow, crossing the $300 billion mark by 2021. GitHub, analysts say, could help Microsoft seize on that growth by drawing new developers to its cloud platform, Azure.

The deal could give Microsoft a more prominent role within the ecosystem of independent cloud developers, who build software that runs on cloud platforms like Azure and’s AWS, said Kirk Materne, an analyst at research firm Evercore ISI, in an investors’ note.  That ecosystem has been dominated by Amazon, he said. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

The proposed acquisition also reflects a shifting, more open work culture fostered by chief executive Satya Nadella. Long known for its insular, Windows-dependent ecosystem, experts say that Nadella has pursued a pragmatic business strategy, partnering with outside platforms and businesses. In 2016, Microsoft acquired the software company Xamarin, allowing developers to create Microsoft mobile apps for devices that run on Windows as well as Android and iOS. The GitHub deal echoes that approach by tapping into a wider pool of software developers that use the platform but may not currently develop Windows or Microsoft products.

The deal also reinforces a core aspect of Microsoft’s identity. "Developers or software development has been essential to Microsoft’s business strategy for decades," Jay Vleeschhouwer, the managing director of software research at Griffin Securities, said. "This is logically connected to Microsoft’s DNA around software development.”

Talks of the deal were first reported by Business Insider last week in a report that noted GitHub’s recent reluctance to sell itself to another company; GitHub was previously valued at $2 billion in 2015.

Microsoft's stock closed up 0.87 percent to $101.67 Monday.