Microsoft announced this week that it is acquiring Github. What does this mean for Monero?
To those that have @GitHub accounts:
If @Microsoft buys GitHub… would you continue to use it? Or would you move your repositories to a different service?
— Bryan Lunduke (@BryanLunduke) June 2, 2018
Github is a web hosting service for computer code. It is the largest host of source code in the world due to its provision of features allowing access control and collaboration, as well as the free accounts that host open-source software projects.
It was founded in February 2008 under the name Logical Awesome LLC. By July 2010 it was hosting 1 million repositories, and it now has 80 million, run by 27 million reported users.
It hosts the code of many important companies, including that Microsoft itself – the collaborative nature of the website means that it functions as a kind of social network where programmers can comment on and suggest edits to the work of others.
Microsoft is a computer company founded in the 1970s by Bill Gates, who is now one of the richest men in the world. It has a market capitalisation of approximately $781 billion and last week surpassed Alphabet (parent company of Google) in value.
Some notable acquisitions of Microsoft include Nokia (2014, $7.2 billion), Hotmail (1997, $500 million), and LinkedIn (2016, $26.2 billion).
At $7.5 billion, GitHub will be one of its more expensive purchases. The three founders of the coding platform stand to become billionaires. This is despite the company last being valued at $2 billion (2015) and making significant losses since 2016.
Monero (XMR) is a coin designed to be anonymous. It maintains the anonymity of its users while still recording transactions through obfuscation, that is, it mixes up digital identities, creates stealth addresses and hides transaction amounts. This, and the fact that it can be mined using home computers, has gained it a market capitalisation of $2.6 billion according to coinmarketcap.com.
Microsoft and Cryptocurrency
Microsoft was originally founded by Gates and Paul Allen for programming hobbyists. Nadella told Bloomberg: “If you think about what’s happening in the world around us, computing is being embedded in every place and in every thing, it’s impacting our daily lives and our economy from precision agriculture to precision medicine, personalised education to personalised banking is being driven software and the world is becoming digital – and that world is being built by developers.”
In keeping with this philosophy, Microsoft has been keeping somewhat up to date with cryptocurrency. It has been accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment (for certain things) since 2014, and has a working relationship with IOTA, a major cryptocurrency that aims to develop the internet-of-things, and has signed various partnerships in which it has undertaken to be involved with blockchain technology.
However, some of the actions of the mammoth corporation could be worrying to coins like Monero, which call GitHub home.
Gates has made sceptical comments about Bitcoin in the past. In 2015 he said in a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ session that his charitable foundation doesn’t use Bitcoin because of its volatility and because it can’t be refunded. He also mentioned the political complications such as terrorism financing.
Three months ago he doubled down on this last aspect, famously saying in another AMA session: “The main feature of crypto currencies is their anonymity. I don’t think this is a good thing. The Governments ability to find money laundering and tax evasion and terrorist funding is a good thing. Right now crypto currencies are used for buying fentanyl and other drugs so it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way. I think the speculative wave around ICOs and crypto currencies is super risky for those who go long.”
Very recently, he called cryptocurrency a ‘greater fool theory’ kind of investment, because “you’re not producing anything so you shouldn’t expect it to go up.”
Given this attitude, he probably wouldn’t be a fan of Monero, which has after all been implicated in a lot of cryptojacking. Gates hasn’t been the active CEO of Microsoft since the year 2000, but Microsoft did ban cryptocurrency advertising from its platform only last month.
A conversation was opened almost immediately on the popular link sharing a discussion site Reddit with the question “Microsoft is going to buy Github. Do you think Monero should stay on Github or leave?”
A member of the XMR core team said that a migration to GitLab, competitor of GitHub, is possible “If the dev group thinks it’s wise”, adding that Monero already as a mirror code on GitLab. And (s)he’s not the only one.
Bleeping Computer reported yesterday that GitLab has seen a massive immigration following the announcement of the acquisition.
According to the report, this is because many believe that it has a questionable history regarding other people’s products.
I think it’s time I publicly shared about how Microsoft stole my code and then spit on it.
I’d been waiting for them to do something about it, but that is clearly never happening. https://t.co/yCui1neBZz
— puppies, daddies, and hot butts (@jamiebuilds) June 1, 2018
But on the other hand, Nadella seems to be moving the company back to its roots (to appropriate a headline from Bloomberg). He wrote in the official announcement: “Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation.”
But in the libertarian world of cryptocurrency enthusiasts, some will never be convinced.