Nat Friedman is an American entrepreneur and developer who has worked in leadership positions at GitHub and Microsoft and has cofounded several startups. Notably, he cofounded Xamarin, Inc. with Miguel de Icaza in 2011 and served as the company's CEO through the acquisition by Microsoft in 2016. Earlier in his career, Friedman served as CTO for the Linux business at Novell, cofounded Ximian with de Icaza in 1999, and cofounded and served as chairman of the GNOME foundation in 1997.Additionally, Friedman previously served as an advisor at Kubos and as a board member at Rookout. He also cofounded Ximian in 1999 and AI Grant in 2017.
Friedman attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1995 to 1999, where he double-majored in computer science and mathematics while working on numerous open-source projects. His final project was a linker optimization that reordered code to reduce page faults and improve cache performance.
During Friedman's time at GitHub, the platform added several new features and updated many existing ones. One significant development was the introduction of GitHub Copilot, a system that draws on code posted online to suggest new code for developers to add to their projects. The feature was only available to a limited number of users.
Friedman has served as chairman at California YIMBY, a statewide housing policy organization he cofounded in 2017. The organization's goal is to systematically alter state policy to increase the rate of home building and address the statewide housing shortage in California. According to Friedman, his motivation to serve the organization is his conviction that denser housing reduces poverty, increases intergenerational socioeconomic mobility, reduces carbon emissions, accelerates economic growth, reduces displacement, and improves general well-being.
From 2016 to 2018, Friedman served as corporate vice president and services developer at Microsoft, where he was responsible for Visual Studio Team Services and App Center, application lifecycle, and DevOps services with more than a million users. In addition, he was responsible for the internal company-wide engineering systems.
From 2011 to 2016, Friedman served as cofounder and CEO at Xamarin, a company that created a mobile development platform to enable developers to write native apps for iOS and Android systems using the C# programming language. The company also produced several other mobile development tools, including app monitoring and testing services and a developer training program.
Microsoft acquired Xamarin in 2016 and made Friedman a corporate vice president for developer services. In 2018, after Microsoft completed the acquisition of GitHub, it hired Friedman to run the subsidiary.
From 2000 to 2003, Friedman served as chairman at the GNOME Foundation, which he also cofounded, helping the organization to create an open-source computing platform for the general public. It was one of the first such open-source foundations. In Friedman's own words, his intention was to "provide independent governance for the project".