GitHub has been an acquisition target for years, and repeatedly spurned requests from companies including Microsoft, Google and Amazon, according to people familiar with the matter.
Atlassian, which has headquarters in Australia and the U.S., and China’s Tencent are among other companies that made inquiries in recent years, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the talks were confidential. Amazon and Atlassian declined comment. Tencent didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“There has been interest in GitHub for a long time,” said Peter Levine, a partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which first backed GitHub in 2012. “They had lots of options. There’s a real strategic fit at Microsoft.” Levine would not name specific companies who had approached GitHub.
Andreessen invested $100 million into GitHub in 2012, the “largest single check we had ever written,” Levine wrote in a blog post on Monday. A follow-on funding round in 2015, led by Sequoia Capital, valued GitHub at $2 billion.
Nadella won over Wanstrath in the last 24 months with his vision for GitHub fitting within Microsoft, one person close to the deal said. New CEO Nat Friedman, who joined Microsoft through a prior acquisition, plans to run GitHub independently for the time being.
That is similar to how Microsoft kept LinkedIn largely independent — although GitHub will eventually become a part of Microsoft’s growing commercial cloud business alongside products like Office 365 and Dynamics 365, Friedman told CNBC in an interview.
If anything, Microsoft wants GitHub to get even better at being GitHub, Friedman said.
GitHub has had ongoing conversations with Microsoft for several years, so the acquisition didn’t begin with any single event, Wanstrath told CNBC. The companies have a shared mission to help developers be more efficient and more collaborative, he said.
Neither Friedman nor Wanstrath would comment on the acquisition process.