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GitHub Copilot is a brilliant piece of **product management 

Today GitHub CoPilot revealed & implemented its pricing.

There are other threads on that news (the headline is $10/mo).

But I think this is also interesting as a case-study in Product Management.

Sure – Microsoft paid $1 billion IIRC to OpenAI, and this was an obvious product concept (albeit incredibly hard to implement, extremely well exected, etc.)

But it was really NOT obvious this would land as *GitHub* CoPilot.

Consider the alternatives:

– “Microsoft CoPilot”
Still the biggest brand, but this was never likely.

– “Azure CoPilot”
This is what we would all have expected – and the fact they didn’t do this is very interesting indeed. More on this later!

– “Visual Studio CoPilot”
A few years ago this would have certainly been where this landed. But this wouldn’t have worked well today:
a) Visual Studio is eclipsed by its own younger brother
b) This would have implied a coupling which doesn’t exist (CoPilot is also for JetBrains, etc.) Unless they decided to make this VS & VSCode only – which they surely would have considered.
c) Visual Studio’s online services are heavily associated with only the .NET and C ecosystems

Then there’s GitHub. Certainly a huge brand. But that’s table-stakes for this list.

Yes – GitHub is all about developers. But the brand (pre GitHub CoPilot) was really specific in scope. It’s about Git, and community. The technology association was pretty old (everyone knows git is pretty old & with a famous inventor everyone knows it wasn’t their innovation).

Yes – GitHub is doing other things that are really impressive. But really only CodeSpaces can be described as direct developer tooling. And CodeSpaces is new, obscure, and has a clear fit with the repo-hosting (make the repo editable).

Azure on the other hand:
– Could really have used the publicity/millions of new Azure accounts. This alone could have been realistically worth $billions. Because it’s a significant association with a large number of developers & decision-makers in such a lucrative market

– Could have made MORE by bundling: $10/mo or free for Azure users.

– Has a go-to-market that’s better at monetizing. There’s salespeople & consumption-credits & vendor-approvals, etc.

– Azure is MUCH more associated with AI, offering a whole host of AI services (and being where most of the other OpenAI stuff landed).

– Azure is more associated with dev-tooling than GitHub. (Although Visual Studio is far more associated than both put together, many times over).

Here’s why I think they chose GitHub: it’s strongly associated with open-source.

Sure, many people have asked whether AI trained on open-source/public repos with mixed licenses has licensing issues with the generated code.

But coming from GitHub, the well-loved champions of OSS? People asking this question are in the minority.
If Azure did it – those whispers would have been shouts. Or a riot.

When you go with a cloud vendor, in a lot of ways it’s all or nothing. People have strong opinions.

Then you have GitHub. Which feels neutral. GitHub’s monetization is low & very fair. (SideNote: if this had ended up being Azure CoPilot I think it would be $30/mo or more).

GitHub is a good launching pad for services designed to be universal; adopted equally by AWS/GCP/Azure/Heroku/whatever users. It has goodwill but not baggage. It uses its influence so softly & so helpfully.

It seems Microsoft has chosen to be everywhere with CoPilot, and ultimately own more of the developer-experience – rather than take the MayFair & Park Lane hotel which “Azure CoPilot” would have been.

If anyone has internal insight, or a product-manager’s take, please take over from here!

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