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I’m Nat Friedman, Future CEO of GitHub. AMA (reddit.com)
336 points by hamza99 on June 7, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 202 comments

> That said, the GitHub team reports that the set of users who have migrated or closed their accounts is extremely small, and this is more than made up for by the surge of new signups and new interest in GitHub this week.

It's interesting to hear this. If you were on HN the past week, it might have seemed from all the front page articles that GitHub was about to implode due to an an exodus to GitLab.

My sense is that any projects willing to move from GitHub to gitlab on a Sunday evening because of a rumour that GitHub was going to be sold were not really serious projects and losing them isn't a big loss for GitHub.

This is exactly right. However, just because some projects can't up and move on a moment's notice doesn't mean the ball isn't rolling.

Yea, my projects are still on there. But it's not going to stay there. It's just there because I've been too busy to investigate alternatives and move. But I will in a week or three.

Why move though ? Just curious.

I don't know if I'll move yet. Since 2006 or so, I've maintained a personal website for code/résumé, etc.

At first it was hosted on http://peterburk.free.fr, my parents' ISP. That was fine until I no longer lived with them, and I can't trust that it'll always be available. Also, I wanted a .com subdomain instead of a .fr domain.

So in 2011, I moved to http://peterburk.appspot.com on Google App Engine. No problem, until I moved to China in 2013. All Google services are blocked there, including my page. So I migrated to http://peter-burk.rhcloud.com (Red Hat OpenShift). I didn't like the mandatory dash in the subdomain, so I also set up http://peterburk.tumblr.com to redirect. RHCloud supported PHP, so I could finally run WordPress.

Then RHCloud changed to being paid-only, so in 2015 I moved to https://peterburk.github.com and couldn't use PHP again. Now I code everything in client-side JavaScript and static HTML. More recently, Github removed the .com subdomain service, so my Chinese-learning side project is https://pingtype.github.io and that confuses some users. If something happens to Github, I might try to hop to heroku, but http://peterburk.herokuapp.com is pretty long to type.

What do other people do for ad-free hosting? I think most sites pay for AWS, but I can't have a credit card because I'm a foreigner. The design of my site is very basic, because I've had to re-write it 4 times already, typically every 2 years. I choose technologies based on the platform features, so I did know all about GAE, but now I'm more familiar with Git. My loyalty isn't to the code management tool (this is for side projects, not a business that would need collaboration with colleagues), I just move to wherever is free/not blocked by China/has an easy-to-remember domain name.

> What do other people do for ad-free hosting?

By your own domain a $5/month VPS and host your apps just the way you like it.

Just 10 years ago, geeks like us used to take pride in buying domain and creating a personal presence with one's domain name. Don't people do that anymore?

I find this trend of looking for free hosting services a bit disturbing. Because you know the cliche that when you are not paying for a service, you are the product.

Even if you do not want to buy a $5/month VPS, please buy the domain. Costs less than $1/month (more like $10/year) and point the domain to your favorite free hosting service with CNAME entries. GitHub and Heroku support such custom domains with CNAME entries.

Buy your own domain. It's worth the investment in your brand.

I've started using React-static on netlify. Works well, and will auto deploy on commit to GitHub.

This is my question. There's been no changes. It's still a great platform. Is it that guaranteed that Microsoft is going to mess it up?

Software developers are human too. Every decision need not be rational.

But are they serious developers? The impact might not be felt for years.

This is an important question, microsoft controlling the servers that host most open source code is not great but what they really bought was the community. If those developers move a small project no big deal, but, those same developers will never start another project on github and will of course stop recommending github to corporate clients. Github will become VSS.

I'd consider Gnome a pretty serious product.


ok. so they weren't on github. GOSH!

Gnome didn't move to gitlab because Microsoft is buying it. They weren't even on github. IIRC, they were self-hosting. And they still are.

FYI, Nat Friedman, co-founder of GNOME, is now the Microsoft employee who is the CEO of GitHub.

Well, not quite. Nat cofounded a company (Helix Code, later Ximian) with Miguel de Icaza (cofounder) which then developed GNOME apps and infra.[0]

Nat was a cofounder in the same way that Jeb Bush was a US president. Connected to one perhaps but not one himself.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNOME#History

I believe you are mistaking Miguel de Icaza with Nat Friedman (probably because of Ximian).

Isn't Miguel de Icaza also with Microsoft now ?


Gnome has never been hosted on GitHub!

They aren't hosting on gitlab.com and github.com because both are not open source. Gitlab.com is open core which us why they host on their own gitlab ce version.

It's not unexpected. Serious projects need more than a few days to move off Github; and there's some overlap between HN users and users who would move their tiny projects off Github on a Sunday afternoon.

That being said, it's way too early to tell how this will evolve trust-wise. Microsoft has a tremendous deficit of trust in the open source community. Younger folks probably don't realize how deep it runs; most of my friends and colleagues who were involved in FOSS in the late 1990s and early 00s wouldn't touch anything with Microsoft on it with a ten-foot pole -- not just because of prejudice, but because fool me once etc etc.. And I wasn't thrilled about hosting code on someone else's computer before, either, but now I'm even less thrilled about hosting it on Microsoft's computer.

Yep, those scars are very, very deep. The thought that Microsoft seemed a lock to rule the computing world made me a very miserable IT person for many years.

Now I don't think about them much at all. I'm not thrilled that they now own a vital part of the OSS world, but I'm optimistic their overall irrelevance to my life will persist.

Has Gitlab finished their hosted migration from Azure to Google's cloud yet? They announced they were starting in April, but those things take time.

Not from what I can tell: https://imgur.com/r1d3sj9

This is the standard HN effect. I also love when I think some startups are killing it based on what I read here; but then they end up shutting down soon after due to a lack of any real revenue model.

Given how 1) he's provided no evidence to support his claim, 2) he would never publicly say "a significant number of users have moved", and 3) gitlab has a public tracker showing thousands of projects being imported, I'd take his comment with a large grain of salt.

Github has 28 million users with 85 million repos. Thousands is a very small proportion.

Also: Gitlab also has to exit one day. The only question is who buys them.

Do they? Are they backed by capital pushing for an “Exit”, and even if so, couldn’t an IPO be a viable option?

They’ve taken a big pile of VC funding, so the answer to your first question is yes.

Meanwhile, the biggest player (by far) in the market just abandoned dreams of an IPO. Gitlab is a distant third place in that market, and has a revenue model that is best described as “like Github, but cheaper.”

IPOs are only viable if you have a business capable of supporting them.

There are only two possibilities I see: acquired by Atlassian and merged with Bitbucket, or by a low-tier cloud player with deep pockets such as Aliyun or Oracle. The IPO market just isn’t that buoyant at the moment.

Oracle has been looking at GitLab since the Microsoft acquisition of GitHub.

Is Gitlab a distant third? I didn’t know if they are in second place or not. But distant seems too much. Is Bitbucket in second place? Any numbers or references you have?

> ... that is best described as “like Github, but cheaper.”

Aha, I thought I may find you on this thread, once again pushing the same line.

how active are those users and repositories? both of these statistics are meaningless without additional context

FWIW, Gitlab would prefer an IPO and they say they are on track for it.

Source: Gitlab guy in one of the many, many, many Gitlab or Github threads recently.

Everyone says they’d prefer an IPO but a lot of them change their minds when a man puts a $7.5 billion check on the table.

Gitlab isn’t going to say no to $7.5B or any number close to that. They are also more venture backed compared to GitHub.

The announcement happened just 3 days ago, so it's still too early to draw any conclusions.

I personally decided to move my stuff out of GitHub, but it will take me a week or so to know where exactly as I'm still analyzing various options. And after migrating, I don't think I will close my account (even when I really distrust Microsoft) simply because too many libre software projects are currently using GitHub.

Exactly. How can they measure this stuff. You can add a new remote and push your code somewhere else, update the readme file to point to the new location, and that's a migration. That's not an easy thing for Github to track. So this statement doesn't even make a lot of sense. They simply cannot really know -- they can only measure the people who explicitly close projects and accounts.

The reality doesn't matter at this point just what people think.


It's going to take a while for me to move out of Github.

I have a lot there over years and scripts that use Github.

Also Gitlab's import is failing on some repos.

It's also suddenly pushed me in a place where I have to suddenly find an alternative.

It's going to take some time.

Can you just host a git server yourself? Not trying to be snarky but seems doable.

You can. It's very doable. Plenty of people do it.

But the real value of GH was "social coding" - open public access to open public projects.

That's going to fragment, even if GL takes over. And that will be a loss.

The real problem is the lack of open public server infrastructure. In the same way that everyone has access to a browser, everyone should have access to a private server, which is secure-by-default, controllably networked, super easy to set up with a selection of server apps that include social, commerce, payments, and public/private sharing of various kinds, and cheap to run.

The centralised consumer internet - where servers are far beyond the skill level of most users and can be a nightmare to set up and administer, even for professionals - is one of the reasons we have giant predators like MS and Facebook.

What you call "social coding" is simply the convenience of contributing to a huge number of projects without needing a separate account or quasi-account (joining a mailing list, using OAuth/OpenID, etc.) for each. It is not necessary, it predates and doesn't need GitHub (as Sourceforge demonstrated 20 years ago), and it will simply move to other project hosting communities, with a modest decrease of convenience in the transition between one account and a few accounts.

I have a self-hosted git instance on a VPS. It's trivial to set up for doing personal projects, but it would take quite a bit more work to properly set it up so other people could clone repos or contribute. Depending on what GitHub features Zamicol is using, it could be a pretty large project to self-host.

I’m more willing to believe the openly viewable GitLab migration tracker, which shows several thousand projects migrated. Just another way Gitlab is nice is the openly viewable statistics versus a generalization.


a few hundred thousand repositories of the 85 million reported Github repositories is really not much, see https://github.com/ten at the bottom for the number.

of those 85 million how many are actually active and not just placeholder empty repos or automated mirrors for wordpress/jquery plugins? Not on anyones side here but if the top 250k repos switched, that would be really bad news. I think it's more important to compare size and popularity of the repos than just what the % is.

i assumed that only small repositories that nobody except the author is using can be moved in such a small timespan of a few hours. Heavily used open source projects have issues indexed in Google with permalinks, their users probably hardcoding git urls, connections to package managers, heavily customized Travis CI integrations and the like.

Of those that switched, how many were backup mirrors vs actually switching to the Gitlab platform?

We can only guesstimate with the data we have.

Yeah. That has to go both ways too. If it’s only tiny repos moving over and not top repos.

One statement doesn't exclude the other

14 cross-site scripts... I'll pass.

Using HackerNews reaction as a main source of information will almost always drastically skew reality. It reminds me of people shorting Facebook because of the #deletefacebook campaign, when in reality getting a few thousand people to delete Facebook in protest is offset in a few minutes by growth.

I can tell you that my Facebook feed is dead. Very few post anymore. I don't really post anymore either. I just have it for events.

March 27th hight of delete facebook "movement" FB stock reaches low of $152.22. Since then, it has rocked up to new highs. Moral of the story as this keeps on happening over and over again (United Airlines, Tesla, Apple, Wells Fargo), do the opposite of media/HN outrage and buy emotional outrage dips... Profit.

Facebook's earnings are driven by their ad network, not user interaction.

That is, as long as Facebook is able to identify and track an individual, they can make money even if the user never spends much time on Facebook.

So, stock price is not an indicator of Facebook usage.

i found it very funny when i saw some people be a part '#deletefacebook' movement and go on to post on Instagram.

It's not about the number of the accounts that move, but the importance of the accounts. A couple of personal projects move? Whoop-di-doo. A huge, popular open source app moves? Or a GitHub rockstar leaves? That's big news.

So I don't care really care how many leave, in fact that's a clever distraction. I care about who is leaving.

Looking at HN or certain subreddits would similarly have you believe FB is quickly dying and no young person uses it. Or that a ton of people deleted their accounts as a result of the recent scandals. Yes, I’m exaggerating of course.

The number of repos that were imported to Gitlab via their GitHub importer had crosses 100K on Tuesday if my memory serves me right. GitHub has 75M repos, I believe. For now, the migration has been potentially significant, but too early to tell.

Overall, I’m sure there’s something to glean from places like HN and some parts of Reddit, and other similar places. What exactly you can take away, I’m not sure about yet.

There was a front-page article of some survey that was saying something like 40% of people were going to or already did delete Facebook. Not a correct number of course.

I think most people mirrored instead of closing. Spin.

I think most people don’t give a fuck and will continue using GitHub.

>I think most people

Based on... what exactly? That's a big claim to make without any data.

its a reasonable expectation. You don't need any data to understand that most people will care about certain things in a given situation. (and actually, in making such a generalization, data is being used to make that, its a bit difficult to present that data since its more of a soft 'life experience and understanding of what positions others might be in and choices they might make in such positions' kind of data.)

>its a reasonable expectation. You don't need any data to understand that most people will care about certain things in a given situation.

I don't even know what that means; it's so vague and lacking in detail as to be useless. Of course "people care about things in situations". but we're talking about _what_ they care about, and that depends on the situation. For example: "are Nazi's bad?". I don't need to see hard numbers to believe that the answer from most people will be "yes". "Is MS buying GitHub bad"? That's a whole other story. The vocal minority often doesn't represent the majority in things like this.

I think it's pretty clear that most people in fact _don't_ care about the things the-dude cares about. Privacy, lock in, using services provided by "evil" companies... these are things a tiny fraction of people care about. You know how I know that? All of these companies you don't like are _insanely_ successful.

Key word being "think". OP is saying his personal biased opinion.

Well, yeah, and I'm questioning why OP would "think" that. Just because you have an opinion doesn't make it reasonable.

So you think it's more reasonable to assume most of the migrating projects didn't mirror, but deleted themselves from Github with only a few days warning? That (IMHO) would point even more to it mainly being small, mostly 1-person projects where there's no community to consider.

No, what I think is that you just added some context to another person's comment. The top level comment is:

>It's interesting to hear this. If you were on HN the past week, it might have seemed from all the front page articles that GitHub was about to implode due to an an exodus to Gitlab.

and the-dude said:

>I think most people mirrored instead of closing. Spin.

You changed that to

>I think most people (who migrated away from GitHub) mirrored instead of closing. Spin.

Maybe that's what the-dude meant, I don't know. The implication is also that a significant number of users migrated and mirrored, and we have no idea if that's the case. That is my point. You can assume that many who migrated would have mirrored, that's reasonable, but it's not reasonable to assume that a significant number of people are migrating away from GH due to the acquisition, which is absolutely what the-dude was implying.

I can see the source of confusion though; I did quote the "most people" bit and didn't touch specifically on the above until just now.

yes, then we did read the-dude's comment differently, I took him as only talking about the moving repositories, as e.g. reported by gitlab's importer numbers.

Speaking on behalf of myself and myself alone, I have published stuff that links to my personal github repos. So although I've already migrated those projects to Gitlab, like the OP said Github is still used as a mirror.

I imagine how hard it must be for organizations to do the same.

I moved 2 dozen personal repos out of github, and I plan to move the repos associated with my work too. I'm definitely not alone.

Out of the 250 000-ish projects that migrated to GitLab.com, only about 3000 are mirrors (= using GitLab's mirroring feature).

Source: I work for GitLab.

But did they close their Github account?

That's something we don't have any data on.

When I moved to gitlab a couple of years ago, I created a commit in each repo which deleted all files and replaced with a single README file pointing to the new URL, pushed those up to github, and then locally undid the commit.

I guess they count as mirrored.

It’s the vocal minority. The people who don’t care and aren’t going to move don’t write angry pieces on social media.

Also remember that many of these writers are the same people who claim they are boycotting the latest company that slighted them as a way to make a statement.

Like the people who are so vocally not buying a phone without their beloved jack plug. Surprisingly the manufacturers aren’t really feeling their sting.

Github is only a high profile Git peer. If it explodes someone just pushes up to a different repo hosting site or goes back to trading chagesets some other way.

It also has project management features that tightly integrate with Git repositories, which are not stored within the repository itself.

Most (semi-)serious projects make use of this, which makes migration harder.

It would be pretty cool if someone devised a core set of meta-services (e.g. the feature branch / pull-request / review / commit that lived entirely on top of git and some simple command lines so that you could basically not care where your cloud repo was.

(I'm expecting that this has been done and I'll be deluged with links...)

No numbers have been provided, so it just sounds like spin.

People will always put their own comfort in front of any real ideals or morals. That is, people talk the talk but don't walk the walk. You see it with all the idiots still using Facebook.

And funnily enough Facebook encourages this sort of behavior. So many ways to indicate your "support" for something without having to actually do anything. I've seen so many reposts of the whole "If you're my friend and gay, you're family" image.

And yeah, that's a nice sentiment. But it doesn't require anything of you. What happens when that person _needs_ something. A house, a loan, a ride, etc. "Being there" is well and good. But it's the secular version of "thoughts and prayers".

Interesting, and also...a lie? Or he thinks the 250,000 projects migrated to gitlab within 24 hours of the news that Microsoft was going anywhere near GitHub is a small number.

That IS a small number. Consider the context.

Yeah I really think people are trying to read way too much into things. The only true bellwether in my opinion, are influential open source projects leaving GitHub for something else, like self hosting with GitLab/Bitbucket/etc.

If nodejs, google, and other big names/organizations decides to leave, then I think it is time for Microsoft to worry.

Gnome, Debian and gimp have all left.

Were they ever hosted on GitHub?

Not for 24 hours it isn't.

Right, but I doubt it'll continue at such a rate. This kind of stuff happens a lot (netflix making it harder to use VPNs, the recent facebook stuff, etc), "mass of people leave" but in reality it's a very small group, who are rather loud. Plus, mirroring isn't the same as leaving (IMO). To me it's more of a precaution.

Right, I mean it can't continue at that rate forever - the numbers don't support that hypothesis.

I wonder how many people/organisations own those 250k projects, I assume it is far less than 250k.

Yeah. For example, I just put up and am putting up a few more repos of old code I had lying around. With those I have over 15 repos on GitHub. Unfortunately, but also not uncommon at all, the most stars any repo has is 5 with most having none. So, no repos that are material to GitHub.

Is the number 250k projects (are projects repos?) in first 24 hours? I thought it was topping 100K repos imported to Gitlab at some point on Tuesday. This is from Gitlab giving those numbers themselves in a post that was linked from here.

The first hint of Microsoft and GitHub was around 6 pm EDT/11 pm UTC on Sunday.

And like others are saying. Even if that is the case, it isn’t a huge number with context of Github’s size.

Ever since I heard of "Monaco" the online code editor which is used in VSCode. I always assumed Microsoft will eventually come up with a completely online IDE >> deploy toolchain like a GitHub on steroids. I think this acquisition is pretty much all about that. Nobody seems to have mentioned this yet though, at least not that I have read of.

Microsoft already has VSTS which has source hosting, CI, issue tracking, kanban, release management and more.

I suspect acquiring GitHub was more about the developer mind-share than the technology.

Are you sure that VSTS will live more than two more years? I'd suspect that Microsoft will eventually want to integrate GitHub with their CI and get rid of TFS (of which VSTS is just a hosted version) entirely. I don't know if you've used TFS/VSTS but it's not exactly user-friendly and well designed. Especially their CI configuration is horrendous.

Nat answered this in the AMA: They intend to develop both, and ensure VSTS users can use GitHub easily for version control if they want to.

But bear in mind, extremely long-term support for business workflows is Microsoft's obsession: Even if they decided to "retire" VSTS, it'd probably get updates for the next decade or so.

VSTS hosts git repos as well. I don't know of anyone that still uses TFS, but I'm sure they exist. I've been using VSTS daily for the last year and a half, and while it has it's quirks I think it's a powerful and productive environment.

Team Foundation Server is more than Team Foundation Version Control.

An online toolchain would be a nice concept in theory, but at least on my laptop, performance is still an issue.

Online IDEs still eat up a lot more resources.

WASM might help make them a lot more performant, and I think online editors could be a place where it really shines.

Microsoft does have Monaco used in Azure and VSTS online tooling.

Nat is being really smart here. It should not backfire unless he acts pedantic or insults Redditors intelligence. I think that both are unlikely.

Maybe Nat is trying to counteract any PR damage to GitHub, or maybe he just wants to see how much can skyrocket his account's karma. If I was in his situation I will be happy doing it for both reasons.

How long is it going to take Redditors / HN readers / open source advocates to realize that Nat is one of them and that being an employee of Microsoft or Microsoft's designee to lead GitHub doesn't diminish this?

Sorry but this is the corporate world. When an employee of a company speaks about an asset of that company, he represents the company views, not his ones.

From now until the end of the year is his job interview. Microsoft wins either way.

If Nat doesn't gain developer and corporate traction, Microsoft replaces him in a smash move of hiring a well-liked CEO. However, if he is lauded by developers, then he stays as CEO.

I can't imagine a world where anyone would care about their Reddit account karma. I periodically destroy any Reddit account I have to use as a matter of online hygiene.

(and yes, I destroyed the account I did an AMA on a while back as well.)

Plenty of people care about karma -- if they didn't, then reddit would have removed it.

Unrelated, but I really like your blog[1]! It's one of the few I read.

1: https://blog.codinghorror.com/ (for the people that don't know it).

Come on. You have to know some people care about their karma. Reddit being one of the biggest sites in the world makes that fraction of people quite a large number.

I wouldn't say I care about it on HN but it is a site topic (programming) that is relevant to my career, so it aligns with my interests. Reddit is just.. irrelevant.. to basically everything. It's fine for entertainment at best.

He’s probably too busy to care about internet points.

Maybe he also wants to connect with the user base and answer questions on a moderated popular platform.

He may even be interested in taking the pulse of some of the community and learning from interesting questions.

I know I would.

Are you suggesting that Reddit, or HN, have had an intelligent discussion about the GH acquisition at any point this week?

> We will continue to develop and support both Atom and VS Code going forward [...] for as long as there is a healthy community of people who love each of them, which I expect to be a very long time.

Microsoft should just make Github open source.

It would be a great PR move and an amazing build of trust.

I don't know why Github was not open source to begin with.

Why do companies still think source code is a big deal? This is not Google Search or some advanced AI.

Great PR move? Amazing build of trust?

Microsoft bought GitHub for over seven billion dollars. You don't buy something for that kind of cash unless it has that kind of value. Saying they 'should' do something as though there is a problem is silly. Engineers here on HN are so quick to say what someone "needs to do" something... but in response to what? What problem are you identifying? A vocal minority of engineers have complained about the acquisition, meanwhile GitHub has 28 million users. Most of those users don't care that this happened.

1. They have great competition in Gitlab. Gitlab's main point is it's open source.

They simply will be more competitive.

2. They want to improve their "Open Source Friendly" image and they've been taking meaningful steps towards it.

3. Why not? What's the downside of doing so?

Apple has great competition in Android, however it would be silly to open source iOS. GitLab/Android are customizable and have a ton of features, while GitHub/iOS are more cohesive. Differentiation is how competition exists.

Even if you prefer Android/GitLab, you can't deny that most of the early innovation was copied from iOS/GitHub. In fact, most open source projects (Linux, Firefox, OpenOffice, etc) take their lead from closed source competition... and for all those examples, that competition was Microsoft. That's not to say they can't eventually innovate, however much of the R&D, creation of a marketing, etc come from closed source.

The downside of Open Sourcing so is losing billions of dollars from companies who say "rather than paying $10k/mo, I'm going to just fork it for free".

Lastly, part of the value of GitHub is the network effects. If everyone's hosting it on their own, then there's no network effect.

GitLab :: Android

GitHub :: iOS

CodePlex :: Windows Phone

Makes complete sense...

Github value comes from userbase not the platform which could copied pretty easily.

Yeah, good point. You could probably do that in a weekend I bet.

Ironic perhaps? Cloning the Github interface would take thousands of man hours at least. Still completely negligible compared to $7.5 billion, but certainly not a weekend project.

Definitely being sarcastic and just poking fun. Classic developer, thinking they can replicate a startup in a weekend. :)

Github is SaaS and its value lies in its userbase and network effect. They do license out the github software product, but I imagine that that's a relatively small section of their money intake, and there are plenty of opensource alternatives (gitlab, gogs/gitea, others). They would probably more than recoup the costs with the goodwill they'd get.

> Microsoft bought GitHub for over seven billion dollars. You don't buy something for that kind of cash unless it has that kind of value.

That is NOT what happened. Microsoft is in the process of purchasing GitHub, which likely won't happen before the end of the year. The agreed price was $7.5B in stock not cash.

.. why is this distinction significant?

I made two distinctions.

.. why are either of these two distinctions significant?

What is the value of Github’s source? Seems like Gitlab’s source is almost as good. The value of Github is the community, which isn’t really impacted one way or the other by open sourcing.

Making it open source doesn't mean anybody could use it in a proper manner - I guess it's a ton of services which need a lot of setup and management as it's purposely build to support a few million repos and users.

Yes, but consider the scenario. Microsoft, acquiring a company, then open sourcing it, and still maintaining/building on it. If that happens, I'd be very much amazed and that would go a very long way towards making me stay (or, by then, move back). For me, open source is both practical and ideological.

Well, guess they will - over time - integrate more and more with Azure services, where they can. Thus open sourcing GitHub will still tie it to Azure and I don't see Microsoft OpeSourcing much of their Azure services ;) (GitHub however open sourced stuff like Orchestrator to manage MySQL replication setups etc. which are key parts of their environment)

I don't know if they'd outright "open source it", in part because there is probably a fair bit of cruft, much as Windows and Office likely have under the covers. But I suspect they'll build open source initiatives on top of it.

I don't know if GitHub going open source is likely or even beneficial, but imagine if they chose to develop an open standard for PR/issue/comment data. The easiest way to show you are going to play fair and win via quality and trust is to make it easy for people to leave. IMHO, that's where I'd push for/encourage.

Please rethink the value of from PR vs. $7.5 billion dollars they paid in the acquisition.

They paid for the user / project base. Open sourcing would not affect that. It seems like a brilliant idea and a real possibility to me.

>> Why do you think Microsoft has previously rejected the idea of open source software?


Well, that's a pretty brazen answer.

I asked:

What are your thoughts on how GitHub can incentivize open source work financially? Perhaps by integrating something like Patreon or OpenCollective in the website.

It seems that he won't answer it. Still would be awesome if GitHub started addressing this in some way in the future.

EDIT: He answered it.


There's a reason it's AMA and not IAA (I answer anything). Most AMAs like this one are PR stunts, where the "what's your favorite ___" are answered while the tough, controversial qeustions are ignored.

Well, we now know Nat Friedman's favorite cheese. :-)


He didn't really answer it, though. We, too, would "find it amazing to see what could happen". But that doesn't tell us anything whatsoever.

He's a CEO-to-be, not the tyrant who can make all the decisions and know all the answers months before he even starts the job without consulting anyone involved.

Yeah. And even if he were CEO right now, there is always his boss at (or at least goals set by) Microsoft. I see the point of this AMA.

Tidelift has a compelling approach to this: https://tidelift.com/

Why was the AMA posted on /r/AMA instead of /r/IAMA? Certainly the future CEO of GitHub is notable enough for the latter subreddit.

I assume that's just an embarrassing mistake on the part of Github's PR team.

There's really no reason that a CEO currently making headlines should be on /r/AMA instead of r/IAMA (70x more users).

It's worth noting that until the deal closes, Nat isn't actually part of GitHub. That would make it the Microsoft PR team or his deal -- not GitHub's.

That makes less sense as Microsoft has done some excellent AMAs with the Excel team:



You might be overestimating the coordination between different teams at Microsoft :) It's a big company. I doubt there is any overlap between the people involved in the Excel IAMAs and Nat's

That is true; when I looked, I thought MSFT did more AMAs than just Excel.

Eh, I wouldn't be surprised if they're already working together. PR teams are used to cross-company collaboration.

Not known the intricacies of reddit is probably better than the reverse, toxic as reddit is.

Honestly, I'd lean towards /r/AMA to get a higher signal-to-noise ratio & limit trolling. The smaller user base means you're more likely to bring genuinely interested parties into the conversation -- people watching the related twitter feeds & so on.

So weird, I don't understand the freakout. Microsoft is a solid company, I am totally fine with them buying it. What is with all this craziness?

Microsoft has a long history of not only opposing open source, but actively trying to attack and discredit it. That and they are somewhat notorious for their whole "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish" approach.

Microsoft is where good products go to die. They change products and the communities and cultures associated with those projects. They are a big machine that has to please shareholders, and growth is difficult when you’re that big, so there are “hard choices” that can be made abruptly. These choices are often not to the benefit of the existing communities.

Ignore anyone who brings up “Embrace, extend, extinguish”. I’m not an MS apologist but no rational person can still consider that to be relevant. There are many reasons to distrust them, but that isn’t one of them.

No... Oracle is where projects go to die. Microsoft has other issues and it like many companies has successfully murdered good products (Skype), but it also realizes how important ecosystem is. Oracle just rapes and pillages companies and tech.

Microsoft was not always this cozy with open source and with regards to their acquisition policy.

Go look up the October Papers.

"Embrace, Extend, Extinguish".

From 20 years ago. Meanwhile, in the last 5 years they have opened up huge amounts of C#, are the most active organisation on the largest open source host o the internet, lead the development of one of the most popular open source editors, provide rock solid Linux support on their cloud offerings, and have been jnvolved in huge amounts of publicly available research.

I’m not saying they get a free pass for it, but they’ve more than earned their trust back over the last decade.

Thinking about MS's recent acquisitions, how long will it take to recoup the money they spent on: LinkedIn, MineCraft and now GitHub?

LinkedIn: $26b

MineCraft: $2.5b

Github: $7.5b

Did the Minecraft thing not make money for them? I imagine now that it's on a ton of platforms it's made that back?

As of January 2018, over 144 million copies had been sold across all platforms, making it the second best-selling video game of all time behind Tetris.

^ from wikipedia

If they sold each for $10, then thats $1.5 bil (if my maths right). So I think it's safe to say that they have not made their money back ... yet.

Merch? Every kid I know has Minecraft Legos, Minecraft pajamas, Minecraft fidget spinners ...

Minecraft legos are a funny thought. Minecraft basically _is_ digitized lego.

It's $26 on PC and $20 on Xbox, so the revenue is about there

+ microtransactions for skins and graphics packs

Until Microsoft does anything shady I'm staying put with both personal and business projects. I rather give them the opportunity to improve an already good service.

Try justifying to management moving to gitlab because Microsoft...

What is the root of all the Microsoft distrust? I’m older, and left Windows for Linux back in 1997 and haven’t really paid attention since. I wonder if this mistrust is valid? Are they any worse than Apple?

Well, there are a lot of web developers that we're saddled with supporting ie6 for many years after Microsoft won the browser war with Netscape and proceeded to let it stagnate for years. That amount of pain that was inflicted on the web dev community left a lot of lingering resentment.

Then there was their locked-down file formats, their role in killing off BeOS and preventing pre-installed Linux machines, their "embracing" of open technologies like Kerberos only to make their version subtly incompatible. For well over a decade, almost everything they did technically rubbed us tech folks the wrong way.

For me it's that they're software patent abusers, and I won't send them any money because of that. However, all I did was switch from the paid tier to the free tier, and move my private repositories to my own server.

Example: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11323942

Does anyone really believe that if an open source project hosted on Github became a serious competitor to a Microsoft project, the Microsoft management wouldn't figure out some way to undermine it?

Any code analysis initiatives in your pipeline?

The AMA is actually happening on reddit... He won't answer here.

No one asked "why?" ?

> Is there any truth to the rumor that Clippy will be joining your team? I think "You appear to have a merge conflict. How can I help you?" is a good fit for Github.

> His name is actually Clippit, and you will address him as Mr. Clippit.


Edit: https://www.reddit.com/r/AMA/comments/8pc8mf/im_nat_friedman...

Little things like this build more trust with me than all the carefully written press release blogs ever could.

I think this falls under “I want a president I would have a beer with”, you’re judging something by a bad metric.

Only if it's the only metric. I've worked with people who would never be comfortable making jokes like that in a public forum, always having their "PR-mode" on, and they tend to be the ones that don't have a ton of empathy.

Being able to interact with the community in a human way is definitely a good signal, imo.

Eh... for a small organization sure but I think relatability from big wigs is more used as a way to hand wave controversies than being used for actual good?

I think the president analogy really holds. A president who you could have a beer with can get away with a lot more crap then one who has to prove it through policy.

I’m definitely being a bit nit picky, just saying it’s not a good metric.

Seems that you believe you possess the authority to judge the worthiness of someone else's metric...? Curious.

What would you rather fight - a horse sized duck, or 100 duck sized horses?

Hope he answers that one.

I really dislike this kind of questions. "A little fun doesn't hurt" Reddit and the internet has a lot of fun things to do. Don't waste the opportunity of someone important willing to spend what little 30 mins they have in their schedule to take questions from the community and these questions come up - there are important things to ask. Absolutely useless question and should not be asked.

I hope you understand that this is the person you're talking about:

> Miguel de Icaza: but the idea of the nugget

> Miguel de Icaza: The essence of the nugget

> Miguel de Icaza: The nugget

> Miguel de Icaza: It keeps me away from the radio

> Nat Friedman: yeah i can see that

> Nat Friedman: what you've got, son, is a nugget fixation

> Nat Friedman: a common issue in the mid-30s man

> Miguel de Icaza: I do

> Miguel de Icaza: Oh, is that what it is?

> Miguel de Icaza: Is there some ointment I can use?

> Nat Friedman: you need baboon urine

> Nat Friedman: very expensive

> Nat Friedman: luckily i have some that i acquired on ebay some months back

> Nat Friedman: using the 'sort by price' selection mechanism

> Absolutely useless question


> and should not be asked.

None of your business.

I thought we are supposed to be sharing our opinions on HN with respect.

Since when is stating my opinion on an opinion-based community none of my business?

I am saying these questions should not be asked. Please provide a counter argument.

My counter argument is that these questions can be asked, it's none of your business to sayt what questions should not be asked on a reddit community. Historically, r/(I)AMA has been just that, and the ducks question is part of the community's history now (I can't think of a semi-famous AMA in the last year where that question wasn't asked).

More importantly, it's an ama, and the fact that he is about to be github CEO is secondary. We don't want movie stars coming there just for their latest release (if you overdo it, it's a disaster. Google Rampart AMA)

Finally, my intention was to be brief, but stop short of disrespect (and I am sorry if it offended you). Unfortunately I seem to have approached you with the same condescension you showed for (I)AMA's users

I accept your apology.

I still do not agree with "it's none of your business to sayt what questions should not be asked on a reddit community". With that line of thought, none of this is our business to be on the internet and providing opinions. Instead of focusing on what's someone's business and what's not - I recommend you state why asking, what I believe to be useless questions, would be beneficial. What insight does it provide? I understand it could be fun and quirky but literally, every thread on reddit...I mean every...single...thread... on reddit starts with a joke.


Parties? What’s that?

He did!

You can use this trick against 100 duck sized horses: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Thermopylae

You can use a version of the same trick against a horse-sized duck if you have a slightly smaller doorway

I hope Microsoft's PR people came up with a hilarious reply, this will show that the company is meme-aware and down with the Millennial and Generation Z demographics.

"Developers are independent thinkers..."

He seems to be playing the typical corporate lackey role. His comments are all full of condescension, platitudes, and corpspeak. He sounds more like a PR person than a principled leader. He's saying exactly what he thinks his audience wants to hear. It's not surprising that he thrived as a Microsoft exec.

That he's willing to make promises about GitHub's future is also telling. He's the "CEO" of a company owned by another company. He can be fired and replaced at the first hint of disagreement with Microsoft execs. He can't afford to rock the boat at all and he knows it. So he's being dishonest or naive when he makes these promises. A more honest or aware person would make this distinction clear.

Microsoft ruining GitHub over the next few years will be a good thing for open source. There was never anything ideal about relying on a highly centralized proprietary service. GitHub made it work but Microsoft will reveal the inherent weakness of this situation.

Your comment is a significant misreading of his current statements as well as where he's come from. Yes, he's very skilled in the corporate world, but he's just as skilled in the open source world. You absolutely need to be awesome at both to be able to do the right thing as the CEO of GitHub. Check out his history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nat_Friedman

I've read his Wikipedia page. I see work at Microsoft, Novell, an open source version of Microsoft .NET that had little to no adoption, a Microsoft acquisition, and more Microsoft employment. What's there to be excited about there?

He's not an open source developer with a great project that now leads GitHub. He's a corporate guy that now leads GitHub under Microsoft executives.

It is extremely obvious that you don't know anything about Nat or his work history.

Ximian led development of GNOME, which was one of the largest open source software projects at the time. Nat showed up to the hackfests and wrote code like everyone else. He is absolutely an open source developer, whose later career has been in management.

The vast majority of his career has been leading open source projects and companies. You really can't do that successfully without deeply getting open source philosophy and culture. The most talented open source devs simply won't work for you otherwise.

While Mono itself wasn't widely adopted, it was the code base that Xamarin came from, which _is_ quite widely adopted. And Xamarin Studio (now Visual Studio for Mac) is built using the "no adoption" Mono. http://sotagtrends.com/?tags=[mono,xamarin,monotouch,monodro...

His answers read like they were written by a bot tbh.

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