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Microsoft President Brad Smith at the 2017 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

Microsoft has learned a few lessons from the $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn that executives say they’re applying to the recently announced purchase of GitHub.

At Microsoft Inspire, its annual partner conference in Las Vegas this week, Microsoft President Brad Smith said the company has learned to use its vast resources to help its new acquisition and then get out of the way.

“What we learned from the LinkedIn acquisition is that when we invest our resources to help somebody do an even better job of what they were doing already, they can grow faster,” Smith said.

Smith said LinkedIn has grown faster in the 18 months since the acquisition closed than in the 18 months prior. During that time, the two companies have been taking advantage of each others’ strong suits, such as adding LinkedIn data into Office 365 programs such as Outlook and embedding Bing commute time maps for LinkedIn job postings.

Like LinkedIn after its acquisition, Microsoft vows to keep GitHub independent. Smith said the company’s most important goal for the deal, which Microsoft announced in June for $7.5 billion, is to be a “steward and protector” of the repository where 28 million developers store their code, for Microsoft projects and those of their rivals.

The GitHub acquisition underscored the changes at Microsoft in recent years. Previously anti-open-source, Microsoft has come around. Smith said GitHub represents a “symbolic crossing of the rubicon for our company,” and it takes Microsoft back to its original emphasis on developer tools when Paul Allen and Bill Gates founded the company.

“GitHub takes us back to our roots but takes us far beyond anything we’ve ever done before,” Smith said.

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