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EU Antitrust Regulators To Rule On Microsoft’s Acquisition of GitHub




Many developers don't trust Microsoft’s pending purchase of GitHub. If the EU allows the deal to go through, many may take their code elsewhere.

European Union antitrust regulators will decide by October 19 whether to approve a $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub by software giant Microsoft, according to a report from Reuters.

Microsoft requested EU approval for the acquisition and now must wait until October to find out if the EU's competition enforcer will approve the deal or instead investigate concerns about Microsoft's monopoly in the space.

GitHub contains is the largest repository for computer code, including much of existing blockchain code. When the deal with Microsoft emerged, thousands of Github developers left for rival GitLab (though that's only a small proportion of GitHub's 30 million or so monthly users).

While many developers embrace the opportunities Microsoft might bring to the previously privately owned platform, others are concerned about whether Microsoft sufficiently believes in open-source code. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once called Linux, the open-source (and free) group of operating systems, a "cancer."

Current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has worked to reassure developers, confirming that Github would continue to be an open platform. "Developers are the builders of this new era, writing the world's code," he wrote after the acquisition. "And GitHub is their home."

Nat Friedman, Microsoft's planned CEO of GitHub, went to reddit three months ago to answer developers' questions and concerns openly. GitHub's current CEO Chris Wanstrath has also been supportive, saying, "[Microsoft's] work on open source has inspired us, the success of the Minecraft and LinkedIn acquisitions has shown us they are serious."

But for the blockchain and cryptocurrency community, Microsoft's acquisition might not sit too well with the decentralized ethos of this new foundational technology. Many proponents balk against the centralized powers of large organisations like Microsoft and Google holding so much sway over personal data and the software platforms that form a major part of people's lives.

Engineer James Zaki's views on the Microsoft acquisition, posted to Medium, are somewhat representative: 

"For those with their eye towards a decentralised future, where individuals are rewarded for their contributions to leaderless products, seeing GitHub run by a giant corporation is a step in the opposite direction."

The EU won't address developer concerns, per se, blockchain or otherwise. If and when the deal goes through, developers are likely to vote with their patronage, either sticking with GitHub and trusting Microsoft, or moving to one of GitHub's competitors.

Melanie Kramer

Melanie Kramer is a freelance FinTech, blockchain, and cryptocurrency writer based between France and Canada. Melanie has studied, and retains an avid interest in, global politics, business, and economics.

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