What GitHub’s acquisition teaches us about trust
This week, development platform, #GitHub, announced it was being acquired by #Microsoft for $7.5 billion in stock. This seems to be an appropriate bet for Microsoft in line with its new strategy focusing on offering cloud services and productivity products. Through the acquisition we speculate Microsoft will be able to more tightly integrate #Azure products with the popular developer platform. This could encourage greater adoption but they must also be careful not to make changes that would alienate the community of developers that makes GitHub so valuable in the first place.
Discontent is already being voiced from pockets of that community that are distrustful of Microsoft. This vocal minority fears the popular GitHub platform may languish under its new leadership or become unacceptably biased toward Azure products (read more about developer reactions on The Next Web, Quartz and HackerNews). To its credit, Microsoft has assured investors and developers that GitHub will operate as an independent brand and that it will maintain capabilities with competing cloud vendors such as Google and AWS. Nevertheless, assurances have not been enough to prevent some developers from abandoning the platform already. In the wake of its acquisition, more than 50,000 projects have been ported from GitHub to competing development platforms like VC backed GitLab or Atlassian’s BitBucket.
This change in ownership demonstrates the critical role ‘trust’ plays in service arrangements. Put into perspective, 50,000 projects is a small portion of the 80 million projects still housed on the GitHub platform but it offers an isolated measure of the change in trust since these moves were motivated absent of any announced feature or pricing changes. It also demonstrates how portability and choice gives power to users to hold vendors accountable. Should Microsoft fail to meet developer expectations it risks losing a non-trivial number of users that would erode the value of their purchase.
We built the Myriad Cloud portal to make vendor portability easy. Through it, users can switch vendors without incurring any costs from service disruptions during data migrations. They also face reduced switching costs from egress since fragmentation reduces volumes at each storage vendor. This means greater control for data owners and greater accountability for vendors that fail to meet service standards or where other changes impact trust. We chose our first three vendor integrations (AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure) based on their market positions and the trust that implies from their clients. However, we are committed to vendor neutrality and seek to integrate with additional cloud storage providers to give users the ability to choose vendors they trust most. If you have a preferred vendor with whom we should integrate please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.