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Discussion on: Is GitHub killing the competition?

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Ben Halpern

This is a pretty typical pattern for platforms. The book The Everything Store goes into detail about how Amazon has consistently pulled the rug out from under the feet of some of their important partners.

Early on they had a deal with Toys R Us that they were so bad at keeping up their end of the bargain with that Toys ended up suing them. I forget how it worked out, but as soon as it was advantageous for them to stop respecting the contract, they did so.

They also have a history of misleading publishers, especially when they were getting into Kindle hard.

They now use their troves of data to basically clone the best sellers of consumer products and offer them under the Amazon Basics.

The platform giveth and the platform taketh away.

Facebook and Google are also tenuous partners to their platform partners.

I run a platform of sorts: We are partners with all our users (you all). We try to make it clear that you own your content and our relationship is usually a great one, but there are certainly complicated hypotheticals I can think of. The best thing we can do is foster an expectation of honesty and openness about our relationship on an ongoing basis. GitHub is already neck-deep in these non-hypothetical complications.

In my opinion, the ethical thing for GitHub to do is to continue to invest in the integration points that make it possible to build on top of them. If they want to compete, they should be trying hard to do so on an even playing field. It would be pretty short-sited for them to alienate their platform partners. GitHub has been a good force but has shown signs of evil-empire behavior as they grow and seek profits.

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z0al Author

Totally agree.

I think I should read those books ;)

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Roman Mikhailov • Edited on

Another good book is Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You It argues that for a platform to survive and block competition from entering its market, it must absorb the best innovations of their partners into its core. This is done out of fear that partners will become their own platforms or will also offer their services on rival platforms.

Of course, the fair way of doing this absorption is by buying out partners or their products. However, it is not necessary. GitHub does send a negative message for now, but lucky for them the attention span of the online user is short and the memory is even shorter. If the integration goes well, the majority of users will thank them and still continue developing for the platform. If it fails, the 3rd party tools won't go away since they still are used by the community. This is the magic of platforms :)

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Ben Halpern

I read this a couple years ago and I forget most of the details, sounds like it's time for another go!