I just got done watching Satya Nadella of MS and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn enthuse together on a YouTube video. It introduces the mind-boggling concept of merging those two companies together. As the announcement hits that “MS buys LinkedIn,” Nadella talked about “productivity tools and communications network” linked to a “professional network.” This is intended to enable success in one’s current job, and improve one’s prospects for the next job. Weiner talks about ensuring alignment of “purpose and structure.” He also speaks about “dreaming big” in uniting forces between both organizations. What we’ve got coming up now is “the world’s leading professional cloud and network,” in the words of the LinkedIn Official Blog. Wow … $26Bn … Mind blown!
This still from the YouTube video shows the happy couple.
Sure, MS has the cash to consummate the deal without even drawing its reserves down too far. According to YCharts, the company had $105.5Bn on hand as of March 31, 2016. It’s not a financial stretch for them, then — rather it’s a mental and perhaps existential stretch. It’s also a bold move for Microsoft, enabling them to insinuate themselves into all levels of business, especially the personnel dimension. LinkedIn not only supports professional development and hiring. It also promotes skills development and professional learning through its own acquisition of Lynda.com in April of 2015. For me, just the combination of MS Learning and Lynda is already extremely interesting. And that’s just one element of a huge collection of potential sources of synergy.
MS Buys LinkedIn: What Happens Next?
It’s not as big a deal as Dell’s pending absorption of EMC for a staggering $67Bn. But the combination of Microsoft and LinkedIn speaks much more evocatively to me of where the industry is going than does that other mega-merger. I can’t wait to see what unfolds from this move. I have to believe that regulatory due diligence is already assured enough for all parties to believe the deal can go forward unhindered in the USA. Hopefully that means things look good in the EU (the other big bloc with powerful anti-trust capabilities). I guess we’ll see!
Press coverage — such as this Engadget story — makes mention of Microsoft’s plans to integrate LinkedIn into “many of its apps and services, including Office, Skype, and Cortana.” It mentions integration of professional background info into calendar appointments (and presumably also, e-mail messages). Ditto for ways of obtaining access to professional expertise on Microsoft platforms and technologies (specifically, Office 365, but presumably also database, BI, collaboration, and other widely-used business-oriented items from MS). Then, too, there’s constant opportunity to market subscriptions and services to a big, busy, and vibrant global professional community.
This one should be interesting, and will be riveting to watch unfold. Will it head for new heights of glorious accomplishment or a tragic encounter with the rocks? As MS buys LinkedIn and attempts its integration, its future could hang on how well this works.