Now That Microsoft and LinkedIn Have Tied the Knot, What’s Next?

Now That Microsoft and LinkedIn Have Tied the Knot, What’s Next?

Microsoft and LinkedIn announced on Thursday that they had closed the deal in which the software giant will acquire the professional networking site for over $26 billion. The final hurdle the agreement had to clear was approval from EU antitrust regulators, who insisted on certain concessions from Microsoft, according to the Wall Street Journal:

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, said it was clearing the deal on the condition that, postmerger, Microsoft allowed other professional networking sites access to programming commands for its Office applications and cloud-computing services for the next five years. It must also grant computer manufacturers the option not to install the LinkedIn shortcut on desktop devices, the EU said. …

The concessions are mild. Microsoft already offers its Office Add-in program to professional social-networking services. Giving rivals access to its cloud-computing system could ultimately benefit Microsoft, because companies that took advantage of that system would use Microsoft products to do so.

In a blog post at LinkedIn (where else?), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella outlines the current plans for integrating LinkedIn with Microsoft’s suite of software products:

Read more

Just How Bright is Our Post-Microsoft LinkedIn Future?

Just How Bright is Our Post-Microsoft LinkedIn Future?

Microsoft’s $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn could have huge consequences for the future of HR and the way we work, but not everyone agrees on whether those consequences will be good. At the New Republic, Navneet Alang voices fears that the integration of LinkedIn’s social media platform into Microsoft’s enterprise software products will make it far too easy to watch your employees’ every move, making their work lives even more all-consuming than they already are:

Consider what a day might look like under this new scenario. You wake up in the morning, check and respond to messages on your phone, and perhaps on the way to work you jump into a collaborative document to offer direction on input from the office in Bangalore. Over the course of the day, you continue working, updating your status on the company LinkedIn network, while at lunch you continue chatting via app with peers. In the evening, you tally up your day’s work and make another status update, respond to requests from far-flung coworkers for your specialized help, and then, exhausted, go to sleep, only to repeat the pattern the next day.

It’s not that, individually, each of these things is new. The persistence—or indeed, perniciousness—of work throughout the day is something fostered first by email, then the smartphone, and now by chat and collaboration apps like Slack. Rather, it’s that Microsoft’s desire to produce a social graph for work aims to unify those disparate elements under a single technological umbrella, tied to a single work identity—one that becomes that much harder to escape. While Microsoft alone cannot singlehandedly transform work culture, there are 1.2 billion users of Microsoft Office, and soon they will start to see a much deeper integration with LinkedIn. What, exactly, will these people be linked to: tools for getting work done more effectively, or a culture of work that one is ever quite free from?

In a similar vein, Steve Boese suspects that employees may find it uncomfortable to have Microsoft “own” their professional profiles—as might their employers:

Read more

How Microsoft’s LinkedIn Acquisition Could Transform HR

How Microsoft’s LinkedIn Acquisition Could Transform HR

The $26 billion acquisition deal, announced on Monday, immediately set commentators and analysts to speculating over what Microsoft’s plans might be for the leading business-oriented social network and its 433 million users. As the commentary continues to roll in, a consensus is emerging that this deal is a big deal, as it were, for the HR technology landscape. Quartz’s Amy X. Wang believes the combination of Microsoft and LinkedIn has the potential to transform not only how employees find jobs, but also how they train for them:

Consider that two-thirds of LinkedIn’s revenue already comes from the “talent solutions” it provides to businesses’ human resources departments, and that it’s a popular tool for salespeople looking for clients. Add in LinkedIn’s purchase of online education company Lynda last year, and it’s not hard to see how the platform—with integration into a larger business-catering company, like, say, Microsoft—could become an essential part of the way employers pick and train their employees. A LinkedIn-Microsoft product would not only help workers work, but also teach them the skills to get hired in the first place.

“LinkedIn has a unique advantage in the education space, in that they are the only place where hundreds of millions of people are voluntarily giving their longitudinal job and education history—which allows potentially for some unique analysis of what programs and courses or certifications actually lead to improved career paths,” says education consultant Michael Feldstein. Microsoft could examine that data and then offer those programs itself. While Feldstein says Microsoft likely has “too much to lose by competing against traditional universities,” with whom it has close partnerships, it could easily dominate the corporate training market—currently a fragmented space with plenty of room for new players.

Talking to some HR technology experts, Jack Robinson at HRE Daily comes away similarly bullish about the deal’s potential:

Under Microsoft, “LinkedIn could become a network for learning and collaboration,” providing HR departments a tool for connecting employees, says George LaRocque, a well-known HR technology consultant. … LaRocque sees the company connecting LinkedIn’s Lynda tutorial videos to Excel, for example, so that users can get immediate help. …

Read more

Microsoft to Acquire LinkedIn: Reactions & Analysis

Microsoft to Acquire LinkedIn: Reactions & Analysis

On Monday, we learned about Microsoft’s $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, a deal which will apparently preserve the social network’s brand, company culture, independence, and CEO, while helping Microsoft with its “bold ambition to reinvent productivity and business processes.” Along those lines, Tom Warren at The Verge sees Microsoft using LinkedIn’s vast data trove and cachet as the leading professional networking site to turbocharge its enterprise software offerings, though some challenges will undoubtedly remain:

Google and Facebook have both shown interest in expanding into the social workplace, but LinkedIn has the advantage of being seen as the professional network. Microsoft might not be discussing rivals just yet, but this LinkedIn acquisition is a big bet on the future of machine learning and the ability to secure its control of enterprise software and services.

Microsoft now has a huge social network to fend off advances from Google’s suite of productivity services, but it still needs to convince businesses not to use Facebook at Work or Google Apps instead. It also faces the tough job of integrating LinkedIn into Microsoft’s software, services, and management. Microsoft’s previous acquisitions have been mixed affairs. The software maker acquired Yammer nearly four years ago, and bought Skype for $8.5 billion back in 2011. Both of those acquisitions have been integrated more closely into Microsoft’s Office business, but they haven’t been particularly rewarding.

LinkedIn is a different beast, and many outsiders will be watching patiently to see exactly how well Microsoft integrates the social network into everything the company provides for businesses. Microsoft’s enterprise-centric intentions are clear, and it has gone on the offense today to prove it.

Likewise, by way of explaining Microsoft’s willingness to pay such a hefty sum for LinkedIn, BloombergView writer Leonid Bershidsky calls the deal “a major play for a market no company has yet captured — intracorporate communication”:

Microsoft is not paying $26 billion just for LinkedIn’s existing business. It’s paying for an opportunity to sell more complete systems to corporate customers. In addition to cloud services, customer relationship management software and a system that can run the same applications on desktop and mobile devices — which no one else is offering — Microsoft’s will soon offer an internal communication platform that comes with some sales lead generation and recruitment functions. Facebook cannot offer that to corporate customers: Unlike LinkedIn, it never focused on the professional aspect of its users’ lives, and it’s got the wrong data about them.

[Microsoft CEO Satya] Nadella wants his company to own the modern office. No investment is too large in pursuit of that goal. That he and [LinkedIn CEO Jeff] Weiner can communicate in the language of business manuals and self-help books is just a happy cultural accident: At least they will understand each other.

Mike Murphy at Quartz characterizes the deal as a foray into sales software:

Read more

Microsoft to Acquire LinkedIn for $26 Billion

Microsoft to Acquire LinkedIn for $26 Billion

Microsoft announced on Monday that it had reached a deal to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion or $196 per share, in a transaction expected to close this calendar year. LinkedIn “will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence,” and Jeff Weiner will remain its CEO, reporting to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

“Today is a re-founding moment for LinkedIn. I see incredible opportunity for our members and customers and look forward to supporting this new and combined business,” LinkedIn’s co-founder, board chairman and controlling shareholder Reid Hoffman said in the press release. “I fully support this transaction and the Board’s decision to pursue it, and will vote my shares in accordance with their recommendation on it.”

Here’s how Weiner explained the decision to sell the company to Microsoft in an email to employees:

When Satya first proposed the idea of acquiring LinkedIn, he said it was absolutely essential that we had alignment on two things: Purpose and structure. On the former, it didn’t take long before the two of us realized we had virtually identical mission statements. For LinkedIn, it was to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful, and for Microsoft it was to empower every individual and organization in the world to achieve more. Essentially, we’re both trying to do the same thing but coming at it from two different places: For LinkedIn, it’s the professional network, and for Microsoft, the professional cloud.

Both of us recognized that combining these assets would be unique and had the potential to unlock some enormous opportunities. …

Read more