Microsoft’s $7.5 billion purchase of GitHub is a whopper by nearly every standard — creating a path into 28 million software developers across the planet.
In that regard, Microsoft is opening the door on a new chapter, one that will shake up the competitive landscape in the cloud computing world and potentially alter its relationship with developers.
That’s why the deal is a “super interesting” move, according to venture capitalists who gathered Wednesday at the GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit in Bellevue, Wash.
“GitHub is a really interesting and powerful company, and it will be interesting to see if AWS launches a similar service,” said Chris Kelley, a principal at DFJ. “Everybody has been saying that Google should buy GitLab as a competitive response, so I think I would be looking for something like that, but I am not really a public market person.”
While Microsoft paid a “big number” for GitHub, Madrona Venture Group’s Tim Porter said and the move was not surprising.
“One of Microsoft’s strengths for many, many years has been their developer audience,” said Porter, adding that AWS has “had the hearts and minds of cloud developers and many open source developers, but they really don’t have a … developer-specific set of tools.”
Asked by moderator Sheila Gulati why that was the case, Porter said that AWS has not really needed that in its arsenal up until now.
“I wouldn’t say that (AWS) has a robust tool set in this area,” he said. “Microsoft has embraced open source, and they are walking the talk more and more. And, so I think this could spur (AWS) to do more to cultivate their developer audience.”
Porter noted that there are still a lot of ways that Microsoft could lose the hearts and minds of developers on GitHub, but he said the company has figured out how to consume bigger acquisitions. “I thought it was a really smart move,” said Porter.
Tola Capital co-founder Gulati added that so much of technology begins with developers, with more of the tech world shifting to developer engagement and empowerment.
“I love the deal. I think it is super smart,” she said. “I also think, though, the DevOps paradigm is shifting ops more towards where developers are in charge and in control, and are driving kind of naturally into easier deployment scenarios, easier scenarios of software moving and doing more in the world, so I am super pro dev.”
Of course, Microsoft is going to do everything in its power to keep GitHub a robust community.
“Our key goal is to not mess with what’s working there. So you’re going to see us take a very hands off approach,” said Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich earlier in the day on the GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit stage.
“We are just going to be another cloud when it comes to GitHub,” he added. “Developers want choice, some of them will use Azure and we hope they will use Azure, but that’s not the ultimate goal in this.”