- GitHub announced Wednesday that Google and Microsoft veteran Shanku Niyogi will join the company as its new senior vice president of product to lead product strategy.
- Niyogi spent over 18 years at Microsoft, and he watched Microsoft on its journey towards embracing open source, as evidenced by its $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub last October.
- Niyogi himself has led open source projects at Microsoft, such as Visual Studio Code and TypeScript.
- As the new product head, Niyogi hopes to work to make GitHub a better community and build features that make the platform more welcoming and inclusive.
When Shanku Niyogi first encountered GitHub, he was working at Microsoft in its early days of warming up to open source. Now, he’s joining GitHub to become its new senior vice president of product, GitHub announced on Wednesday.
Niyogi, who has spent over two decades in the software industry, will be responsible for GitHub’s product roadmap, including product strategy, management, and design. Before GitHub, he worked as the director of product management for the Google Cloud Platform, where he led teams in building developer tools.
“When I think of GitHub as an audience of 31 million developers and growing, that is a huge and diverse audience,” Niyogi told Business Insider. “We have to be open and we have to be inclusive in how we build products for them.”
Microsoft just acquired GitHub last October for $7.5 billion, and Niyogi looks forward to returning. Within three months of GitHub’s acquisition, it introduced unlimited private repositories for developers, and it’s been making small user interface changes to the platform.
“It’s important to have that focus on the user and listen to the things that are causing this sort of friction and the things they really need and continue to be fast and responsive in how we’re building features,” Niyogi said. “That’s been a real success point for us in these first 90 days and we’re going to continue to build on that.”
Microsoft’s Open Source Turnaround
Niyogi was an integral part of the teams at Microsoft that explored open source development when Microsoft was still lukewarm towards it.
Previously, Microsoft didn’t have the cleanest history when it came to open source. During the 1990s, Microsoft fiercely battled open-initiatives, especially Linux. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer infamously called Linux a “cancer” and accused it of destroying intellectual property.
Niyogi calls Microsoft’s shift towards open source “a journey.”
“I worked at open source projects at Microsoft from the days when it was not so exciting,” Niyogi said. “At some point, we started moving from a point of being scared of open source to building more projects around it.”
As head of product, Niyogi hopes to build features that help make the the GitHub community more inclusive, especially to newcomers. Some examples might be features that make it easier for developers who don’t know each other to collaborate and adding emojis that can help people communicate feedback in a way that’s less harsh and more friendly.
Before GitHub, sites for hosting code existed, but GitHub fosters a community of developers. What’s more, Niyogi believes that many of the most impactful software projects wouldn’t have been as successful if they weren’t open source or if they weren’t on GitHub.
“Most of the products I had the most success with would not happen without the engagement and community and vibrancy of open source,” Niyogi said. “When you think of this idea of home-grown developers, the opportunity to make that happen is amazing. We’re just getting started. Increasingly, every organization in the world is becoming a software organization.”
What Niyogi likes about GitHub is the community. Niyogi recalls that when he first learned to code, he didn’t have anything like an online community. Instead, he would just write code at his house with a couple of friends. He hopes to help build on that community at GitHub.
“I’m excited at the opportunity to come in and help GitHub be a home for developers and be a place where developers can get started, work with each other, contribute to the open source world at large and make it their livelihoods,” Niyogi said. “The opportunity to work at a place where developers can call home is truly amazing.”