GitHub, the gold standard for open-source software, will now woo Indians from India

Tapping into the community.
Tapping into the community.
Image: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
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GitHub is finally setting shop in India.

The US-based software development website, the “gold standard” for open-source among techies and entrepreneurs, will over the next few months hire a team in the country across functions such as engineering, sales, support, marketing, and services. This team will be headed by general manager Maneesh Sharma.

Even without on-ground presence, Indians make for the third largest group of active developers on the Microsoft-owned platform. Over the past year, there has been a 22% increase in the number of Indians taking to GitHub. Public repositories in India have grown by 75% during this period, demonstrating a sharp increase in collaborations across the country’s developer community.

Globally, over 6,000 internet businesses, including the likes of Airbnb and Netflix, use GitHub. A growing number of businesses in India, too, are building software on the platform. This includes Swiggy and ArisGlobal.

GitHub has a goal of getting 100 million developer users by 2025. “That’s not too long from now. And we’re looking at countries like India with enormous developer populations that continue to grow to get us there,” Erica Brescia, COO of GitHub, told Quartz during an interaction amidst her first India visit last week.

Below are edited excerpts from the conversation:

Why are you building a presence in India now?

Millions of Indian developers are already building (software) on the platform. Colleges in the country are graduating over a million engineering students every year. We have some fantastic customers here already, even without on-ground presence. We see potential from community engagement and a commercial perspective in the Indian market.

GitHub, with others, wrote an open letter to the Indian government with concerns over transparency and censorship. Is the environment here conducive to nurturing engineers?

GitHub is very passionate about enabling developers around the world to collaborate in the most active and efficient way possible. That was the thrust of the open letter. The policies, the way they were written, would inhibit developer collaboration and place the burden on smaller companies that would make it harder for them to have the resources to comply with those policies. We’ll continue to respectfully express our opinions to the government here and anywhere else in the world.

Indian engineers are considered subpar compared to their American counterparts. Are they?

The government has the Startup India programme and they’re really engaging with startups and educational institutions and trying to make sure Indian developers continue to be among the best in the world. We don’t see a difference in skill levels globally. There are open-source engineers here who run projects that are globally important. The top languages used by Indian developers are the same we see everywhere else like Python, TypeScript, and Go.

Microsoft acquired GitHub in 2018. What role has the parent company played in India?

With the acquisition, we have more resources. We have a new and expanded leadership team that is allowing us to think a little bit more strategically about how we want to grow long-term.

What are your hiring goals for India?

We already have a general manager who has deep ties with the industry. He’s already inundated with applications. We are starting with offices in Hyderabad and Bengaluru but we expect to hire folks throughout the country. We aim to have about 200 employees closing out this calendar.

Cybersecurity is a big concern for Indian consumers and enterprises. What security measures have you undertaken?

We’ve been doing a bunch of interesting acquisitions and building products. We bought a company called Semmle last summer which we believe has the best static code analysis tool (helping detect security flaws) on the planet. We brought their team over, which included about 45 Oxford PhDs. We’ve also acquired other products like Dependabot which allows you to track updates and automatically merge in security. I’m also really excited about our security research labs, where we bring together not only experts from GitHub but companies like VMWare, Uber, and Microsoft, who work on using the tools we built on the platform to identify and mediate security vulnerabilities in open-source software. Up to 90% of code used in modern software supply chains are open source. GitHub is uniquely positioned and responsible for security given that most of the world’s source code is built on GitHub.

Is the India expansion plan a bid to become more diverse?

Diversity and inclusion is something we’re incredibly passionate about. We’re bringing in not only gender diversity but a diversity of backgrounds and experiences, bringing in developers with a varied geographical and cultural perspective. That’s how you can create the best product in a way that it’s neutral and considerate of all the diversity we have in the world.