If an offer is made to buy Stack Overflow, will it be sold just like GitHub was?

closed as primarily opinion-based by James, Nathan Tuggy, Pandya, Ward, Glorfindel Jul 18 '18 at 6:13

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    You mean spin off SO, selling it as a separate entity? – Martin James Jul 17 '18 at 21:27
  • @MartinJames SO (well, technically, Stack Overflow) is the name of the company, so presumably they're asking about the whole company being bought, not just specifically stackoverflow.com. – Servy Jul 17 '18 at 21:31
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    It's worth noting that SO has investors from venture capital, which it took some time ago, so the founders have already sold (some of) the company already. Whether you consider the VCs a "large company" I don't know. – Servy Jul 17 '18 at 21:32
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    Accepting VC money and being bought out entirely are two very different things. – Catija Jul 17 '18 at 21:36

That's impossible to answer without a crystal ball; I mean, what's the offer? $2? Probably not; billions and billions? Probably.

But since we don't have a crystal ball... We'll have to rely on The Magic Eightball:


  • What sort of repayment plan would you accept for said billions and billions? I can offer $7.50 per month and a bag of cold, greasy UK chips... – James Jul 18 '18 at 0:47
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    Pfft. You gotta at least throw in a warm soda to wash that down with! – Shog9 Jul 18 '18 at 1:01

What Shog is trying to say in his answer is, that we just can't know since such things are not known or decided before they happen.

If a real and serious offer will be made, whoever controls SO in that time will have to think and decide what to do. We can't know when or who.

Why SO won't accept such an offer?

  • Risk of changing its core policy of being free for everyone.
  • Losing control over what's good for the users, and not only for the business.
  • ... and more.
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    "Risk of changing its core policy of being free for everyone." The whole idea of explicitly licensing the content under a permissive license was that this is functionally impossible, even if the company is bought out and they no longer have control (or even if they change their minds in the future). Now, technically, the license doesn't prohibit them from charging, but what it does do is allow anyone else to publish the information for free. – Servy Jul 17 '18 at 21:43
  • @Servy they can charge money for privileges, rep boost, badges, etc etc. – ShaWiz Jul 17 '18 at 21:45
  • What I am afraid of is some greedy corporate giant buys it and turns it into a subscription model or premium version. Just what they did to LinkedIn and will do to GitHub. – Asdfg Jul 17 '18 at 21:50
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    Hats, @Shadow. $30 gets you a loot, er, hat box filled with rare headcoverings. – Shog9 Jul 17 '18 at 22:09
  • @Asdfg coming from a forum which died exactly this way (aspfree), I totally agree and took your question seriously. Let's just hope that day will never arrive. :) – ShaWiz Jul 17 '18 at 22:57
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    @Shog9 nah, I want the plush unicorn! ;) – ShaWiz Jul 17 '18 at 22:57
  • @Asdfg - LinkedIn had subscriptions years before they are purchased by Microsoft. GitHub had a paid tier long before they were purchased by Microsoft. In both cases they were purchased due to those subscription models bringing the company a profit. Companies that do not generate a profit, are not typically purchased, for huge sums of money. Strategic purchases like ATI by AMD and Skype by Microsoft, are exceptions to a typical acquisition of a company. Even if there was an offer, the company that would acquire Stack Overflow, would have the ability to bring in revenue dollars in many ways – Ramhound Jul 18 '18 at 14:52

Sure. I can email you my PayPal account info and I'll make sure the VCs, Joel and my other colleagues get their shares. I promise.

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    Hey, I'm still waiting on delivery of the Statue of Liberty you sold me last week! – James Jul 18 '18 at 0:51

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