Amazon Developers Contribute Most to Open Source Says Belong Survey On GitHub


What the law, named in honor of Linus Torvalds, means is that the more people who can see and test a set of code, the more likely any flaws will be caught and fixed quickly – the very premise on which the concept of open source is based. However, quality check is the least of the reasons for going open source.


Today, an organization that propagates a culture of open source is not just seen as progressive and innovative, it also wins itself exclusive bragging rights and is seen as an aspirational workplace for developers.

From a patent-driven culture to open sourcing technologies core to the business, tech organizations have come a long way in the way they innovate and iterate on the product. Organizations are realizing that a company is only as good as its people and not the technologies they are building or built in the past.

In the recent past, Google open-sourced its AI platform that powers its search (TensorFlow) and Facebook quickly followed suit to open source some of its AI engine (Torch) that enables auto-tagging of photos. Microsoft, which once took a position on the very opposite end of the spectrum, has in the last 5 years made a huge headway when it comes to open source contributions

Today, open source contribution has become one of the decisive factors for developers while choosing what organizations they want to work with and what problems they want to solve.

In the war for talent, it’s the organizations which foster a culture of open source that are winning.

Survey Methodology

To help organizations find the right talent to create this culture, Belong, analysed a sample size of the developers on Github – one of the largest communities where developers host and review code, manage projects, and build software along with others. There are more than 75,000 profiles on Github in India. The Belong Research team looked at the overall Github landscape in India, identified the top 5,000 contributors and then the top 200 contributors and found out what kind of companies they work for and what kind of universities they graduated from.

Total number of Indian profiles on GitHub analysed: 75,000+

The Top 5000 contributors: Defined as anyone who has more than 5 followers while factoring only contributions made in the last 3 years.  

ITES make up most of the numbers, contribute less

Belong segmented the companies based on industries – ITES, Computer Software, Internet and BFSI. According to the analysis, the ITES sector contributed the most number of developers, 41% to be exact. However, when it came to actual open source contributions, the percentage fell to 22% among the top 200 contributors.

Amazon has the highest number of registered Github users

Belong looked at the developer universe in India and found that amongst the 75,000 registered users, Amazon had the highest number of registered users on Github, followed by Cognizant, TCS and Microsoft. Among the top eight companies with most number of users, there were only 3 product companies.

On further analysis amongst the top 5000 open source contributors, Belong found that most of the developers came from Amazon (144), followed by Microsoft at 94 and Thoughtworks at 85.

The fact that only four out of the top nine companies with open source contributions are product companies, these companies should also be looking at services sector while hiring for engineers.

Interestingly, in a deeper analysis of just the top 200 contributors, Belong found that most of them work for product startups and not big brands. As many as 67% of the top 200 contributors work for product and service companies with less than 200 employees, once again showing that hiring for quality developers doesn’t equate to sourcing from big names.

Among top 5000 contributors, BITS contributes most to open source

Belong found that among the top 5000 contributors, 208 developers came from BITS Pilani, followed by VIT and IIT Kharagpur. This is how the numbers look.

Further defying all the trends and myths around top universities, Belong found that most of the top 200 contributors came from Tier 2 universities. Less than 14% of top 200 contributors went to premier universities.

Only 6% of open source contributors are women

While women take up 26% of tech jobs in India, the percentage of women active on open source in India is just 6%. Amazon, Microsoft, Cisco and Thoughtworks have the highest female open source contributors. The users come from universities such as BITS, VTU, University of Pune and Anna University.

JavaScript is the most popular open source language

Among the top contributors, Javascript was the most commonly used langauge, followed by Java and Python.

How an open source culture helps attract great talent

Microsoft, which once took a position on the very opposite end of the spectrum, has in the last 5 years made a huge headway when it comes to open source contributions.

“Before Cloud, OS was the platform on top of which apps were built. When Cloud became the Platform, the question for Microsoft was whether to only support Windows developers or go after the entire developer base that worked on Windows & Open Source,” said Harish Vaidyanathan, who is an ex-Microsoft employee.

“Then there’s the skill, agility and innovation angle. No matter how many people you hire, you can never out-hire the world. And the question becomes, ‘do I have to do all the work,” and “where is the best innovation happening,” he added. Harish talked about how Microsoft initially took to open source to enhance its own projects. It later encouraged its engineers to contribute to open source but with discretion about carefully choosing the kind of projects they worked on so that it didn’t conflict with their core IP.

Belong’s CTO Vinodh Kumar Ravindranath, who worked with Google from 2006-2012, said, “In the 1990s and 2000s, organizations used to have more of a patent-driven IP protectionist culture. Today, we are seeing big companies open source some of their hard-core IP and innovations.”

“To attract the best talent, it is no longer enough to say what you have done or even show the final product. Through open source, organizations are revealing the kind of technology they have built and the people working on the problem in a bid to woo all relevant top-notch talent into their teams,” Vinodh added.


About Shakthi

I am a Tech Blogger, Disability Activist, Keynote Speaker, Startup Mentor and Digital Branding Consultant. Also a McKinsey Executive Panel Member. Also known as @v_shakthi on twitter. Been around Tech for two decades now.

View all posts by Shakthi →