Github Marketplace Endgame

I’ve been thinking recently about Github Marketplace; where it may lead.

I’m responsible for technical purchasing at Giant. That means that I’m ultimately responsible for the purchasing we make; but I’m also required to justify those purchases. We’re an SME, and the expenses cannot easily flex beyond their budget, and there are other people in the business who will examine the expenses line-by-line most months.

This level of scrutiny is challenging; and having to develop organisational buy-in for each purchase is exhausting. Sometimes I need to justify temporary SaaS purchasing for a month or two; sometimes I’m going to take a longer term decision to buy for multiple years. The latter of these committments gives me flexibility, because there’s no expectations of predicting the future and cost changes. That is a roundabout way of saying that I get more questions about spending £100 on a random SaaS transaction for one month than I do spending £100,000 on AWS in a year. I speak to other CTOs, and we’re all in similar positions.

Of course, water takes the path of least resistance; so when I have a purchasing decision to make, no matter how large or small, I’m going to ask two questions:

Either purchase option subsumes the costs into a larger, more flexible one, and leaves me with little justification to make. It’s an easier position to be in.

Anyway; to the point. I’ve been thinking a lot about Github Marketplace recently, and it’s potential to change engineering purchasing. Currently, my Github seats are the minority part of my overall Github bill; I also buy CircleCI, Codecov, and several other services from the Github Marketplace. And as long as the above two questions remain, I’m going to continue to buy services on the Github Marketplace. And it’s interesting to think about what these could be:

A future where I buy the engineers on my team their ‘tool stack’ in a single place is something I look forward to. A future where I use the Github Marketplace to access freelancers with verified contributions in a given language is unsettling (for reasons I can’t quite pinpoint) but possible.

Of course, there are monopolistic concerns here; but I’m also resigned to convenience winning against all forces of market intervention (at least, over a long enough period). I was a BitBucket contrarian for a long time, but the pull of the single, coherent marketplace is pretty irresistable.

tldr; Buy MSFT.