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Also, Microsoft is getting pressure from an activist board of directors to make internal changes. Managers who resist may find themselves walking out the door carrying cardboard boxes bearing the former contents of their desks.
The second is the technology problem of integrating that LinkedIn data and making it useful. Microsoft and others have been talking about some of the things they're talking about with LinkedIn for years. For example, in a large company, there's this idea that one employee might be working on a project involving flanges, and Office would identify who else in the company might be a flange expert, even on the other side of the world. I started hearing about visions like that nearly 20 years ago, and it doesn't seem much closer today.
On the plus side, as Brian points out, there's the potential for advertising revenue and marketing.
Now, really only the Influencers get promoted. I have stuck with it because I can post to groups, but groups have really fallen off as well. At this point, my LinkedIn feed is not a lot better (content wise) than my Facebook feed.
The thing that I think that is missed is all the advertising $$ + all the business services (read Sales Navigator) licenses sold. To me, that is the only place the value is at the moment. I have looked at the profit associated with advertising in some Due Diligence, and I can see why Microsoft would want to be in that game.
If I were a MSFT strategist, I would be figuring out how to use LinkedIn to subtly market my products to the right folks. But hey that's just me.
Microsoft is one of the very very few companies that can pull all that together, and it would be corporate malfeasance to have the wherewithal to bite off a chunk of Google's ad business and not try.
Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn looks like an attempt to get a holistic home+work view of consumers. If Microsoft pulls it all together successfully AND if it can make a version of Cortana that consumers will appreciate for the ability to manage their entire lives, not just their home lives, it will be that much more valuable to advertisers.