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Microsoft Closes LinkedIn Acquisition. What's Next?

The merged company outlines first steps to integrating LinkedIn's information about professional profiles and relationships with Microsoft's products and services.

Mitch Wagner

December 8, 2016

3 Min Read
Microsoft Closes LinkedIn Acquisition. What's Next?

Microsoft announced closing of its $26.2 billion LinkedIn acquisition Thursday, and it's wasting no time integrating the two companies' products and services.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella hailed the deal as bringing together "the world's leading professional cloud and the world's leading professional network." He announced closing the deal in a post -- appropriately enough -- on LinkedIn.

The two companies envision combining LinkedIn Corp. 's ocean of information about professional profiles and relationships with Microsoft's enterprise software and services, including Office 365 and its Dynamics 365 CRM. The goal is to revolutionize collaboration, sales, training, talent management and beyond. (See Microsoft to Close LinkedIn Acquisition Within Days.)

Microsoft's "top priority is to accelerate LinkedIn's growth, by adding value for every LinkedIn member," Nadella says. LinkedIn is projected to grow revenue only 15% next year, after growing 20% this year and 35% in 2015.

Nadella outlines the first steps in his blog post Thursday, including:

  • Integrating LinkedIn identity and its network into Microsoft Outlook and the Office suite.

  • Integrating LinkedIn notifications in the Windows action center.

  • Enabling LinkedIn members to draft resumes in Word to update their profiles and discover and apply to jobs on LinkedIn.

  • Extending LinkedIn Sponsored Content across Microsoft properties.

  • Extending LinkedIn Lookup, a service that helps workers research their own colleagues, to support Active Directory and Office 365.

  • Extend LinkedIn Learning across Office 365 and Windows.

  • Develop a business news desk for Microsoft's content and MSN.com.

  • And "redefining social selling through the combination of [LinkedIn] Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365.

The merger is directed at competitor Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), says Ariel Maislos, CEO and founder of Israeli enterprise cloud startup Stratoscale.

Maislos's theory makes sense. Google and Microsoft have a long history of competing. These competitions include Microsoft Bing vs. Google search (winner: Google), Google Android vs. Microsoft Windows phone (winner: Google), Google's G-Suite apps vs. Microsoft Office (winner: Microsoft) and Microsoft Azure vs. Google Cloud (winner: Microsoft has a commanding lead but Google is investing for a long fight).

With the LinkedIn acquisition, Microsoft is taking a run at Google's mission of organizing all the world's information.

"Microsoft is serious about the cloud and Google is serious about productivity," says Maislos. "I'm very curious to see how this ends up."

The deal presents challenges. Corporate acquisitions generally turn out badly, and Microsoft is the poster child for that, having spent $6 billion on digital advertising company aQuantive and $7 billion on the failed acquisition of the mobile unit of Nokia. (See The Nokia/Microsoft Conspiracy Theory.)

Research shows that 60% to 80% of mergers and acquisitions destroy rather than create shareholder value, according to an article on The New York Times.

Microsoft and LinkedIn believe this time will be different, in part because the two organizations will remain independent, with LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner remaining as head of that organization, according to the NYTimes.

Visit Light Reading's Europe channel for more news and information for and about service providers on the Continent.

And Microsoft is a different company than when it acquired aQuantive and Nokia, with a new CEO.

Microsoft is looking to successful technology acquisitions to guide the LinkedIn acquisition to success, including its own $2.5 billion acquisition of Minecraft developer Mojang, and successful Facebook acquisitions including Instagram, according to the NYTimes.

Weiner was tapped to head up the transition team after the deal was announced in June, which is unusual; usually an executive from the acquiring company heads up the transition team, the NYTimes says.

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— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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