Jun 2, 2021 - Technology

Stack Overflow coding service sold for $1.8 billion

Illustration of a coffee cup with binary code
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Stack Overflow, a popular Q&A service for programmers, has been acquired by European investment firm Prosus, co-founder Joel Spolsky announced Wednesday, for a price tag of $1.8 billion, per the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: Stack Overflow's success at enabling expert developers to share tips and shards of working code became the foundation for many novices' knowledge and built a community that helped more advanced practitioners solve tough problems.

What they're saying: "Stack Overflow will continue to operate independently, with the exact same team in place that has been operating it, according to the exact same plan and the exact same business practices. Don’t expect to see major changes or awkward 'synergies'," Spolsky wrote.

Of note: $1.8 billion is a lot of money, but Stack Exchange could likely have taken in even more by going public at different moments in its life. That would have opened it to market-driven demands.

  • Stack Overflow is mostly free and ad-supported, with a for-pay product serving teams.
  • Co-founders Spolsky and Jeff Atwood had launched an effort called Stack Exchange to expand the Stack Overflow model to other topics, but it never achieved the same popularity as the original programmers' forum.

Our thought bubble: At the service's founding in 2008, building a programmers' community that made it easier to share knowledge made great sense. Maintaining such a service in 2021 means dealing with a broader host of content moderation issues.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to clarify the description of Stack Overflow's for-pay product.

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