Is GitHub moving too fast? (analysis of GitHub’s recent changes)

As we all know GitHub is the most popular service to store code of a software project. GitHub provides a service to keep your code in the most popular Version Control System (VCS) named Git. 

First, what is Git?

Git is a source code management system. Specifically, it is a distributed version control system, which is used to manage the source code of software/program.

Now, What is GitHub?

GitHub is one of the providers of Git version control service. Though there are other services available, GitHub is the most popular. For open-source projects, GitHub is the primary destination.

In addition to version control, GitHub provides a few related services like managing issues, managing info pages, hosting code snippets (Gist).

There are other companies that provide the same service, but GitHub is the most popular. For open-source projects, it is the go-to place for a long time. But for small companies or teams, there was an issue. 

When did everything start to change for GitHub?

Something happened in 2018. Microsoft acquired GitHub for $7.5 billion. It was really strange news at that time. You can read the announcement here – https://news.microsoft.com/announcement/microsoft-acquires-github/

In this announcement Microsoft said:

Microsoft acquired GitHub, a popular code-repository service used by many developers and large companies, for $7.5 billion in stock.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said – “we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness, and innovation.”

And then it started changing, or we should say it started growing. And in recent days it is providing so many tools, features, and services. 

Until the beginning of 2019, GitHub used to allow you to make public repositories. To make a private repository you would need a paid plan, before that. And also for free plans, there were other limitations.

It is growing its services and making a lot of rapid changes. So the question comes to mind is that – is GitHub moving too fast? If yes, then is moving in the right direction.

Let’s try to find the answer.

Growth History of GitHub

It all started in 2008, and the company saw rapid growth from the beginning. 

Let’s take a look at year by year growth of GitHub.(Following information is approximate data, collected from different sources, like news items, GitHub blog and few other sources)

YearNumber of RepositoriesNumber of UsersNumber of Employees
200845K41K
2009200K160K
2010600K498K
20112.0M1.1M33
20124.6M2.7M139
201310.0M4.0M234
201414.5M7.8M257
201521.0M10.0M330
201629.0M16.0M592
201760.0M20.0M780
201896.0M31.0M1,096
2019140.0M40.0M1,460
2020190.0M56.0M1,800

What happened recently?

Let’s take a look at recent events.

  • Microsoft acquired GitHub

In June 2018, Microsoft announced the acquisition process of GitHub. It was a $7.5Billion acquisition.

A very big acquisition indeed. And that started speculation among the community and developers, about the future of GitHub.

The main concern was that Microsoft will restrict the use of GitHub. And what will happen to open-source projects hosted on GitHub, do they need to find a new home for their projects.

  • GitHub desktop app got better

Though lots of GitHub users use command-line interface for Git related operations, but having a desktop app is helpful for a lot of other users.

Github desktop app was announced in September 2017 (which is an electron based desktop application).

It has got a lot better since then, got improvement updates and stability.

  • GitHub mobile app released

GitHub mobile app became generally available in March 2020, both for iOS and Android. Few features are still missing from the mobile app, but features and improvements are being pushed rapidly.

  • GitHub plan and pricing change

In April 2020, GitHub announced that – individuals and organizations who are using a free GitHub account, now can create unlimited private repository. Also, the pricing for the Pro and Team account was also reduced at the same time.

It was big news and opened a new dimension for users.

  • GitHub acquired NPM

In April 2020, GitHub announced the acquisition of NPM. It was big news for the JavaScript community, as NPM is the primary package manager for JavaScript projects

In addition to that, we are seeing new features being added in GitHub, frequent updates on the GitHub blog, and also in the GitHub enterprise.

What are the possible reasons for these rapid changes?

  • GitHub wants to scale its service fast and wants to reach as many developers as possible.
  • As Microsoft is involved in the process now, so the business and services can be expanded without worrying much about the financial angle.
  • Microsoft is a developer-first company. So, by improving GitHub and contributing to the open-source community, Microsoft will have a better image among the developers. Which will be beneficial for Microsoft as a company, and also for the developer tools that Microsoft offers.
  • This way GitHub can establish itself as the dominant force among the developers for many years to come.
  • This can move GitHub and Microsoft very fast towards a cloud-based development environment.
  • GitHub can dominate the DevOps process (which is very big these days).
  • Acquiring NPM can be beneficial for Microsoft’s effort to make products/technology like VS Code and TypeScript.
  • By expanding fast, GitHub will have more users, which means more data about the development trend and development process. This would help to predict a change in development trends, and the ability to adapt the changes faster for services like Microsoft Azure, and other services.

What will be the impact of GitHub’s recent changes?

  • The impact of all these changes seems positive. Users are getting more features and services. The service is becoming more stable.
  • Plan and pricing changes will introduce more and more users to Github.
  • For small teams, it is now more affordable.
  • For the individual user, this is great.
  • GitHub will be able to defeat all its competitors with the services.
  • GitHub (with the help of Microsoft) will be able to scale its services to a new level.

Final Thought

So, is GitHub moving too fast at this moment? The answer is YES. GitHub is moving forward very aggressively, but it is probably moving in the correct direction. With the current changes in plan and pricing, a lot more people and small companies will join GitHub for sure. New features and apps will help to provide a complete and satisfying experience to the users. Looks like there is a huge growth possibility for GitHub. 

Let us know, what you think!!