Microsoft's GitHub CEO Nat Friedman Is Stepping Down, Product Chief Thomas Dohmke Will Replace Him

Source: Microsoft
  • Microsoft acquired GitHub for $7.5 billion in 2018 and tapped Nat Friedman to lead the unit.
  • Now Friedman's replacement, Thomas Dohmke, will report to the new head of Microsoft's developer division, Julia Liuson.

Microsoft said Wednesday that Nat Friedman, CEO of the company's GitHub subsidiary that provides software for storing source code, is stepping down. Thomas Dohmke, GitHub's product chief will replace him.

The announcement comes weeks after one of GitHub's most prominent competitors, GitLab, went public on the Nasdaq. Following the debut, GitLab was worth $16.5 billion, more than two times what Microsoft paid for GitHub in 2018.

"As Chief Product Officer, I'm proud of the work our teams have done to bring new capabilities to GitHub Codespaces, Issues, Copilot, and many of the 20,000 improvements that we shipped last year," Dohmke wrote in a blog post. "Together, we've built a roadmap that will transform the developer experience for open source maintainers and enterprises using GitHub for years to come."

Dohmke takes over for Friedman on Nov. 15.

Friedman is "very excited to go back to my startup roots to support and invest in the builders who are creating the world of tomorrow," he wrote in a tweet. He will be an advisor to both GitHub and Microsoft, Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for Microsoft's cloud and artificial intelligence group, wrote in an email to employees.

Before becoming the top leader of GitHub, Friedman had been co-founder and CEO of Xamarin, a start-up that built cross-platform mobile development tools. Microsoft acquired Xamarin in 2016 and made Friedman a corporate vice president for developer services. Then in 2018, after Microsoft closed the GitHub acquisition, it tapped Friedman to run the subsidiary. His appointment came months after co-founder Chris Wanstrath stepped down as CEO.

Dohmke first registered as a GitHub user in 2009, not long after its founding in 2008. He was co-founder and CEO of app-testing software start-up HockeyApp, which Microsoft acquired in 2014. He moved to GitHub at the time Microsoft closed the GitHub acquisition in 2018.

Dohmke "led the GitHub acquisition process on the Microsoft engineering side from the deal signing to the successful acquisition close," Guthrie wrote in his email. Dohmke later led the acquisitions of Npm, a code-distribution start-up, and Semmle, a start-up whose software helps organizations analyze code to uncover security issues, Guthrie wrote.

Since the acquisition, Friedman has reported to Guthrie. Once Dohmke takes the helm at GitHub, he will report to Julia Liuson, a 29-year Microsoft veteran who is becoming president of Microsoft's developer division.

In the Friedman years, GitHub came out with new features and enhanced existing ones. Perhaps the largest announcement was the introduction in June of GitHub Copilot, a system that draws on code posted online to suggest new code for developers to add to their projects. The feature remains available to a limited number of users, and people often show off its abilities on social media.

Microsoft does not disclose GitHub revenue, but the company does occasionally provide updates on the size of the service's user base. Over 73 million developers were using GitHub today, up from 28 million when Microsoft announced its plan to buy GitHub.

GitHub's challengers have gotten bigger, too. In 2019 Atlassian said its Bitbucket Cloud service had reached 10 million registered users. And GitLab, which said in the prospectus for its initial public offering that its "principal competitor is Microsoft Corporation following their acquisition of GitHub," estimates that it has 30 million registered users. GitLab said revenue grew 69% year over year in the quarter that ended July 31.

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