Microsoft has announced that it is acquiring LinkedIn, the social network for professionals with some 433 million users, for $26.2 billion, or $196 per share, in cash.
Right massive news in itself. But there is an interesting connection to Office 365.
This is from Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella’s message to MS staff:
“We are in pursuit of a common mission centred on empowering people and organizations. Along with the new growth in our Office 365 commercial and Dynamics businesses this deal is key to our bold ambition to reinvent productivity and business processes. Think about it: How people find jobs, build skills, sell, market and get work done and ultimately find success requires a connected professional world. It requires a vibrant network that brings together a professional’s information in LinkedIn’s public network with the information in Office 365 and Dynamics. This combination will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete. As these experiences get more intelligent and delightful, the LinkedIn and Office 365 engagement will grow.
The opportunity for Office 365 and Dynamics is just as profound. Over the past decade we have moved Office from a set of productivity tools to a cloud service across any platform and device. This deal is the next step forward for Office 365 and Dynamics as they connect to the world’s largest and most valuable professional network. In essence, we can reinvent ways to make professionals more productive while at the same time reinventing selling, marketing and talent management business processes. I can’t wait to see what our teams dream up when we can begin working together once the deal closes, which we expect will happen this calendar year.”
It is an interesting crossover to bring an individual’s professional profile into their work environment (via Office 365) especially when it comes to sharing your expertise and knowledge. One of the main challenges for IT and communications in any organisation is get people to complete their information profiles. Be it on SharePoint, in HR systems, using Active Directory or whatever platform is used.
People can be reluctant to complete that profile in the required detail. If they have a LinkedIn profile, will they want to be sharing that and what they use that for in their own work environment?
Data from LinkedIn will most likely feed into Delve, the Office 365 ‘machine learning engine which is powered by Office Graph’ which shows what you and connected people are working on. Commentators have said this deal is all about data. And LinkedIn has plenty of that with its 400 million + users. So Microsoft combining the two certainly shows ambition in that regard.
But will it work with Yammer? How will that fit into this connected world within Office 365? That is also a big question. Yammer has struggled to be fully integrated with Office 365 but there has been a lot of work done behind the scenes in making changes to Yammer. And a lot more will be seen by the end of this year.
So is this a good deal for Microsoft? At 26 billion dollars it is certainly a big risk and we will have to see how it is integrated with Office 365 and Dynamics over the next year or two.