One month ago today Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion dollars. In order to research this buy out properly I wanted to do my own due diligence as to what this means exactly to all parties that this affects. That is, company stakeholders as well as business owners and of course what it also changes for me as an independent LinkedIn trainer.
Although the merger was officially announced on the 13th June by LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner, rumors had been circulating for some time with some interesting points of view. See my previous post called ‘Is LinkedIn looking for a new owner?’ dated 30th April.
According to The Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Mims on June 14th (the day after the official buy out announcement), there is a real synergy between the companies and their products, particularly Microsoft’s productivity suite. Keeping in mind their core demographic of business people, a match of their product suite with a database of over 430 million business professionals. Satya Nadella the CEO of Microsoft says “it’s really coming together on the professional cloud and the professional network. People are currently moving between our Microsoft software or cloud based productivity packages and then moving over to their preferred professional business platform like LinkedIn” he says.
Bernard Marr a contributor for Forbes says “the Microsoft owned voice activated system call Cortana may be integrated as well”. Marr says a future version will essentially allow you look up your contacts straight out of LinkedIn and dial their phone number by simply asking.
This will be a brilliant feature if this happens as the majority of LinkedIn users (53%) look up profiles via the App. The ability to do a useful look up in the app is currently about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike as most people don’t know that you have to scroll down someone’s entire profile to find the contact number. However, that is only if the profile owner saw the hidden ‘Contact Info’ box when they were filling in their profile initially. So the integration of Cortana as Marr has pointed out, would be brilliant business.
But Cortana is more than that, according to Mr. Nadalla of Microsoft. He says “imagine walking into a meeting and Cortana tells you about the people you are meeting and what you need to know about them.” I think there is a lot more to Cortana than being a replacement of Siri (who currently says “there’s nothing to read” when you ask her in vain to read a LinkedIn profile).
Another interesting development is the integration of Office 365 productivity products with LinkedIn and vice versa. Jeff Weiner says “imagine that course work migrated across the Microsoft ecosystem integrating across productivity apps like Excel, Word and PowerPoint under a tab called ‘Learning’. In Microsoft products you will able to see who can tap into your network. In LinkedIn, Microsoft 365 and Dynamic creates value through integration”. So you can see that the plan is to integrate Microsoft products such as the staple 3, Dynamics (CRM system) and Cortana (voice activation) into the LinkedIn user interface. And Microsoft to incorporate one’s LinkedIn network into the Office 365 suite. Makes me wonder if that means every time you type the name ‘John’ in Excel for example some pop up sprouts like a weed trying to suggest which one of your ‘John’s’ from LinkedIn you might be taking about. More research is needed for me to fully understand this sides integration.
By reading a bunch of media, plus getting in touch with my own insider sources within both Microsoft and LinkedIn to back this up, the current plans for these platforms will remain largely untouched for around the next 24 months.
LinkedIn is to remain independent as part of the acquisition agreement. According to TechTargetwho compares to integrate to previous deals. “Microsoft’s purchase of Acompli was very successful as Microsoft left the team autonomous and empowered them to drive the email clients across the Microsoft ecosystem”. What the heck is Acompli you might be saying? Well, you probably know it better by its Microsoft rename of ‘Outlook’.
If LinkedIn is allowed to run independently even after the initial two years, and not just integrate Microsoft’s products for the sake of it. Perhaps an integration of their much more intuitive user face philosophy, this will be a hugely valuable merger.
This sentiment is actually endorsed by Satya Nadalla during a recent Microsoft/ LinkedInconference. He says “this isn’t about changing the core of LinkedIn; it is about bringing the best of LinkedIn and the best of Microsoft”.
Microsoft’s mission statement is “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”. LinkedIn’s mission statement is very similar. “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”.
With a focus on productivity tools by Microsoft and a focus by LinkedIn on making people more productive this does seem like brilliant business. The selecting of Microsoft as the buyer (rather than a company like SalesForce), sends a clear message to small, medium and multinational businesses that LinkedIn is aiming to develop the business side of LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s Co-Founder Hoffman on 7th July 2016 has stated on CNBC that it was becoming too hard to compete with Tech giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft. I guess you could say this was a case of if you can’t beat them join them and then dominate in your space with a one stop shop.
In closing, well done LinkedIn in selecting the best fit for your next growth cycle. When I started researching this article I was super nervous about what this buyout meant for me, my clients and potentially for my beloved LinkedIn overall. Now I come to its conclusion, I for one am super excited about the future developments, how they will monetize the market and how much more productive lead generation will become using LinkedIn in the future.
You have just been Ninjafied by the LinkedIn Ninja Down Under.