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Microsoft Names Dohmke CEO of Code-Sharing Platform GitHub

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(Bloomberg) — Microsoft Corp. named Thomas Dohmke chief executive officer for its GitHub code-sharing unit and promoted developer tools executive Julia Liuson, as the company looks to accelerate its growth in the market for software development products.


Nat Friedman will step down as CEO of GitHub with the intention of returning to his “startup roots,” Microsoft said Wednesday. Dohmke, the chief product officer, will become CEO effective Nov. 15. Dohmke was the co-founder of mobile development app HockeyApp and joined Microsoft when the software maker acquired his company. While at Microsoft, he led the GitHub acquisition process from an engineering standpoint, according to an email from Microsoft cloud chief Scott Guthrie to employees seen by Bloomberg. Dohmke will report to Liuson, who is being promoted to president of Microsoft’s developer division.


“When we acquired GitHub in 2018, we knew it was critical that we do our very best to serve developers everywhere. Three years later, I couldn’t be prouder of the team’s progress,” Guthrie wrote in the email, noting GitHub’s users have nearly tripled to 73 million from 28 million. 


Microsoft’s acquisition of code repository GitHub for $7.5 billion in 2018 marked a return to its roots as a software development tools company as well as showing the company’s growing desire to use that business to bolster its ambitions in areas like cloud cloud and artificial intelligence.


The deal provoked some concerns among users about whether Microsoft would meddle with or ruin GitHub, particularly given Microsoft’s historical antipathy toward open source development, or hamper projects that rival Microsoft’s key products. But with Microsoft already shifting to become a large open source developer itself, those concerns have largely failed to materialize. Instead, Friedman has worked with Microsoft rivals as needed, attracted enterprise customers to GitHub and focused on ways to professionalize open source software development and create a path for code-writers to get paid for their efforts.


There has been the occasional culture clash between the two companies as when GitHub employees protested a contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Friedman told an internal meeting that GitHub was beholden to Microsoft’s policies on the issue. 


Friedman, who co-founded Xamarin and sold it to Microsoft about six years ago, will become GitHub’s chairman emeritus. 

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