How Big Tech Contributes to Open Source?

GAFAM, short for Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft, are not only commercial tech giants, but also the most active contributors to open source projects on GitHub. As our chart indicates, even the giants of open source can't hold a candle to the contributions of some of the world's biggest tech firms.

According to the Open Source Index, 5,709 Google employees recorded more than ten commits, actions such as saving a file or making changes to an online document, on the free online code repository in 2020. The tech giant also registered the biggest increase. With over a thousand additional contributors compared to 2019 in this regard. This comes as no surprise as open source is embedded in Google's DNA. Its mobile operating system Android, for example, is built on open-source code. Of the original wave of successful open-source software companies, only Red Hat managed to crack the top 8 with 3,127 contributors. In 2018, the software developer responsible for the enterprise operating system Red Hat Enterprise Linux was acquired by IBM for an amount of US$34 billion, making it the fourth largest company behind Red Hat.

Open-source software has been the backbone of software development since the 80s, while the term itself was coined in 1998. In recent years, it has also become a valuable business, with several companies such as Red Hat, MongoDB, and Elastic being undervalued. Billions figure in the double digits and tech companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon offer open-source knowledge bases and encourage their employees to contribute to impromptu projects in their spare time. Software Freedom Day is celebrated every year in September to raise awareness for the open source software movement.

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