Are You Ready to Recruit in a World Where Microsoft Owns LinkedIn and GitHub?

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Jun 4, 2018
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

Love ’em or hate ’em, recruiters and vendors need to get used to the reality that Microsoft now owns the two most popular professional networking sites on the net. And as a result, it owns the two most important sourcing platforms in existence.

Announced today, Microsoft dropped a reported $7.5 billion for 10-year-old GitHub, the web’s largest community for developers, allowing it to collaborate and discover, share, and build software. That strengthens a portfolio that already contains LinkedIn, which Microsoft bought for $26.2 billion a few years ago.

“The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is upon us,” blogged Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO. “Computing is becoming embedded in the world, with every part of our daily life and work and every aspect of our society and economy being transformed by digital technology. Developers are the builders of this new era, writing the world’s code. And GitHub is their home.”

Approximately 28 million developers use on GitHub now. It is home to more than 85 million code repositories used by professionals in nearly every country. It’s also already the most active organization on GitHub, having more than 2 million “commits,” or updates, made to projects.

Historically, developers using Microsoft products were at odds with the open-source folks, but GitHub believes those lines have blurred over the past decade, and getting in bed with Microsoft won’t negatively impact user loyalty. “We both believe GitHub needs to remain an open platform for all developers,” said Chris Wanstrath, CEO & co-founder at GitHub in a blog post. “No matter your language, stack, platform, cloud, or license, GitHub will continue to be your home — the best place for software creation, collaboration, and discovery.”

Aside from the fact this is a big deal for the world’s developer community, it’s also a really big deal for recruiting and many companies who service recruiters. Granted, only time will tell exactly how this acquisition will impact recruiting, but here are some immediate thoughts:

  • Microsoft now owns professional networking online. Nearly 600 million are on LinkedIn. Almost 30 million developers are on GitHub. Many GitHub users aren’t on LinkedIn, by the way. Want to recruit these folks? Microsoft has the ring you need to kiss.
  • Pricing power. If you’re sourcing talent that resides on LinkedIn and GitHub, prepare to pay more. A lot folks are already bitching about pricing at LinkedIn. It’s going to get worse.
  • Sourcing software providers beware. Sites that currently capture profile data from users on LinkedIn and/or GitHub should be very nervous. If HiQ loses its court battle with LinkedIn, the dead pool could get pretty crowded, pretty fast.
  • Snail’s pace. Microsoft is going to have to move very cautiously with any changes it wants to make with GitHub. Many of its users despise Microsoft and what the brand represents already, so disrupting things too soon could cause major abandonment of the platform. As a result, sourcing via GitHub shouldn’t change anytime soon. Job postings coming en masse to GitHub, for example, won’t happen tomorrow.

Frankly, I’m still digesting this move. I think it impacts the recruiting business in a major way. The ripple effect should have a number of vendors who rely on LinkedIn and GitHub data on the defensive. Stay tuned for more opinion pieces on this topic. The fact Microsoft owns two of the top recruiting tools for jobs, and more specifically tech jobs, matters a lot.

In a race where Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are aggressively jockeying for employer dollars, this puts the latter in a very good position after this move, especially if you believe the real value is in people and not postings. It also makes moves like Indeed’s parent company acquiring Glassdoor look like too little, too late.

This article is part of a series called Opinion.