Today it was announced that Microsoft is acquiring GitHub. The responses to this event have been mixed, with some people expressing optimism and others fear. I have two lines of thought regarding this subject.
First of all, I don’t expect Microsoft to ruin GitHub. I agree with those who believe that Microsoft genuinely cares about open source. So long as software is a complement to Microsoft’s products, Microsoft is incentivized to support open source software. I was worried when I discovered that Microsoft’s revenue from Windows is dropping since operating systems are an obvious complement of software, but luckily Microsoft seems to be pivoting to cloud services, another complement of software. Therefore, I expect that Microsoft will at least avoid damaging GitHub in any way since it stands to gain from open source.
What does worry me is the larger pattern that this acquisition is a part of. Microsoft has made a lot of acquisitions in the past, and it’s far from the only company to do so. This pattern, along with some other factors, has resulted in a major increase in market power, which means there’s a lot less competition among companies. This leads to a variety of problems, including lower wages, less economic growth, and the phenomenon known as cost disease, among many others. So while I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this acquisition specifically, in context it is part of an extremely harmful pattern that needs to be ended.