Microsoft is set to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in cash in a deal that has tongues a-wagging in the technology and financial sectors today.
The deal — which is expected to close later this year — is Microsoft’s largest acquisition to-date, but it is a pairing that makes sense. Microsoft, the world’s biggest software provider with its popular Office Suite of tools, will gain access to the professional social network’s 433 million members.
LinkedIn will “retain its distinct brand, culture and independence” and CEO Jeff Weiner will remain the company’s leader, although he will report to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella said. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.”
Weiner said the deal would enable LinkedIn to continue “growing, investing in and innovating on LinkedIn to drive value for our members and our customers.”
In a letter to employees, he called the acquisition the best chance the company has at realizing its mission and vision. After meeting with Nadella, Weiner said, it became obvious to them both that combining their assets would have “the potential to unlock some enormous opportunities” for both companies.
One of these opportunities includes using LinkedIn to “power the social and identity layers of Microsoft’s ecosystem of over one billion customers,” Weiner said. “Think about things like LinkedIn’s graph interwoven throughout Outlook, Calendar, Active Directory, Office, Windows, Skype, Dynamics, Cortana, Bing and more.”
Other ideas include integrating the Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning solution in Office, giving Sponsored Content customers the ability to reach Microsoft users anywhere across the Microsoft ecosystem, redefining social selling through the combination of Sales Navigator and Dynamics and making use of LinkedIn’s subscription capabilities to provide opportunities to the massive number of freelancers and independent service providers that use Microsoft’s apps to run their business on a daily basis.
The acquisition has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors for both companies, but must be approved by shareholders and regulators before becoming reality.