Is this how "open source" goes mainstream?

Leo Zhang

By Leo Zhang

Microsoft has acquired Github. Here's why it matters.

Github is software for collorative version control in... software. That means it's used by all sorts of scrappy teams to code together, often in conjunction with outside contributors, and all without screwing up each other's work. Valued at $2 billion in 2015, Github soared to popularity with its public repositories, where so many free and open source software repositories live.

The company famously had no managers and operated in a mostly open-allocation organizational structure--mimicking open source project governance. Github, the open-source-culture-collaboration company, was acquired today by Microsoft for $7.5 billion.

While it's unclear exactly how it plans to integrate Github into its ecosystem, Microsoft's ambition to be more developer-friendly has been, uh, obvious since Steve Ballmer screamed about it on stage in 2000. But it would suggest that times are changing when a very proprietary software company buys into a culture like Github's.

It isn't the first time that the famously hierarchical Microsoft has shown interest in open allocation governance; Microsoft acquired Yammer in 2012, a company famous for embracing "Responsive Organization" philosophy, based on open allocation principles.

Is this the beginning of a new era for open source governance and culture, or the end of something great? See discussion below.

Microsoft + Github = Empowering developers
(Official Microsoft Blog, by Satya Nadella)

"And Microsoft is all-in on open source. We have been on a journey with open source, and today we are active in the open source ecosystem, we contribute to open source projects, and some of our most vibrant developer tools and frameworks are open source."

Discussion thread on Hacker News

"GitHub more complex than todo-list-on-steroids app so a platform change would not make any real sense. MS today may still have some of its old habits but they do seem to have purged a lot of the 'not invented here' problem that caused much embarrassment when the first attempts to migrate HotMail over to MS technologies failed. It also has pretty good integration with relevant MS tools (VS & VS.code, etc.)."

Everyone complaining about Microsoft buying GitHub needs to offer a better solution
(arsTechnica, by Peter Bright)

"If money problems were indeed looming, GitHub had only a few solid options. Its backers could, of course, have decided to cut their losses and let the company fold. The effect of this on the open-source world would be devastating, and it's hard to imagine that any prospective buyer could ever do more harm than this would cause. If the desire was to keep the company as a going concern, that meant raising more money. That presents three options: another round of VC funding, an IPO, and a sale."

Technical & Updates

Zencash target of 51% attack; loses more than $500k in double spend transactions
(Bitcoinist, by Matthew Hrones)

"This is now the fourth major 51% attack launched in the last few months, Bitcoin Gold and Verge being among them. These attacks have sparked much debate within the crypto community as the ASIC vs GPU argument rages on."

Commentary on recent 51 percent attacks

Zencash's statement on double spend transactions

"Increasing required confirmations to 100 makes another attack highly unlikely, however, if you have any specific concerns about the general security of exchange platforms, please contact the exchange directly. As always, we recommend that users store their funds in wallets that they control such as cold storage with something like a Ledger Nano S or paper wallet."

Monero releases "Lithium Luna"

Snowflake to Avalanche: a novel metastable consensus protocol family for cryptocurrencies
(By Murat Buffalo)

"This paper introduces a new family of consensus protocols, inspired by gossip algorithms: The system operates by repeatedly sampling the participants at random, and steering the correct nodes towards the same consensus outcome. The protocols do not use proof-of-work (PoW) yet achieves safety through an efficient metastable mechanism. So this family avoids the worst parts of traditional and Nakamoto consensus protocols."

Excellent discussion thread on the functions and definition of sharding

News & Commentary

Ripple Labs brings on former top SEC officials to help defend private securities lawsuit
(The Recorder, by Ross Todd)

"Former SEC chair Mary Jo White and her enforcement chief Andrew Ceresney, both now at Debevoise, are representing the fintech company alongside co-counsel at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in a private investor suit claiming Ripple's XRP tokens are unregistered securities."

The SEC just appointed its first-ever Crypto Czar
(CoinDesk, by Stan Higgins)

"Her appointment comes during what is perhaps a pivotal point on the crypto front for the SEC. Many of the agency's public-facing actions have focused on alleged scams and fraudulent behavior, while officials have also come out in support of a more balanced approach to regulation."

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak hopes Bitcoin will become a single global currency
(CNBC, by Arjun Kharpal)

"'Bitcoin is mathematically defined, there is a certain quantity of bitcoin, there's a way it's distributed… and it's pure and there's no human running, there's no company running and it's just… growing and growing… and surviving, that to me says something that is natural and nature is more important than all our human conventions,' he told CNBC."

The Hedgie in winter
(AQR, by Cliff Asness)

"But all is not well, and winter may indeed have come to hedge funds. The reason to worry is the evidence, from both their realized excess (vs. their positive beta) returns and, importantly, their correlations to traditional active stock picking, that hedge funds no longer are what they once were. There are no proofs above, just stories and supportive data."