Bloomberg Línea — GitHub’s CEO Thomas Dohmke sees Brazil as a market with potential for developers, and which is currently the third largest market for Microsoft-owned GitHub outside the United States, after China and India.
In an interview with Bloomberg Línea during the Web Summit Rio, Dohmke noted that Brazilians are mostly full-stack developers, as they have the resources to work in a variety of positions, and that this is a common trend in many countries outside the United States, as developers look for opportunities for personal growth and for their companies.
GitHub, a platform for developers acquired by Microsoft in 2018, is a remote-first company and has been slowly building its local operations in Brazil over the past few years.
While the company doesn’t have offices in the country, it is leveraging Microsoft infrastructure in those countries where it doesn’t have its own. The company announced in February that it would be closing its offices in the United States as part of its cost-cutting measures and move toward embracing a remote-first culture.
During the WebSummit Rio, Dohmke talked about GitHub’s new product, CoPilot, which he described as the next generation of AI technology that will help developers build code faster and more efficiently. The product is expected to revolutionize the way developers work and collaborate on projects.
GitHub has been working on its CoPilot app for almost three years, and it has already been adopted by more than a million developers in more than 10,000 companies.
The Open AI, Microsoft and GitHub triangle
Microsoft and ChatGPT’s parent OpenAI partnership will allow GitHub to run CoPilot on thousands of GPUs in different data centers. Dohmke says, however, that the AI feature is not intended to replace humans, but rather to augment productivity.
CoPilot suggests multiple lines of code that may or may not work, but it helps the user narrow down the solutions as they type more. The product, already available in Brazil, understands the context of the conversation and can answer multiple questions in a conversation. It empowers developers to learn and build at the same time, and they can ask CoPilot to explain the code or fix their code.
Dohmke has been coding since 1989. He grew up in East Germany and scaled his startup HockeyApp that was acquired by Microsoft. Then, he joined Microsoft until assuming the role at GitHub’s CEO. He advises entrepreneurs that if a company is considering selling, they should focus on how the buyer can accelerate the startup rather than just the potential synergies that may exist.
“How can the company accelerate the startup? Because ultimately then you join a large company, there’s always going to be a certain degree of slowdown, adjusting to the processes,” he said.
His advice is to think about an acquisition in the same terms as taking venture capital and to not sell the company if that acceleration cannot happen. For Dohmke, Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub is an example of successful acceleration, citing growth in users, revenue, and employees. Additionally, Dohmke advised entrepreneurs to focus on creating a profitable business to avoid running out of money in times of investment shortage.
“GitHub was already profitable. Until that point in time [of a venture capital injection], they had basically bootstrapped the whole business, making money from selling the product,” he said.
“If you can as a startup, create something that people are willing to pay for relatively quickly after you launch, it shows you that you are on the market.”
But it is tricky, he adds.
“With all this venture capital, obviously it helps you to accelerate your company. That’s the whole idea that you can get a steeper growth curve than the venture capital. But if you don’t have a business model that works yet is really tricky to then get the next and the next to the next funding round.”
On GitHub’s platform, there are over three million Brazilians. “I think for in Brazil, emerging markets, there’s a huge opportunity because AI technology democratizes learning,” he said, adding that technologies like CoPilot and ChatGPT level the playing field for everybody who is interested in learning, coding and history.