About six months ago, Microsoft announced its intention to acquire LinkedIn, the world's leading professional social-networking platform, for $26.2 billion.
Yesterday, that deal closed, officially becoming the biggest in Microsoft's history.
Mergers and acquisitions are closed every day, and "decades of research by academics and consulting firms have shown that from 60 to 80 percent of mergers and acquisitions end up destroying, rather than creating, shareholder value," as reported by The New York Times. In fact, one of Microsoft's largest acquisitions to date, the mobile unit of Nokia, turned into a disaster.
But I believe this one's different.
For some time now, both of these companies have been changing the way we work.
Microsoft's accomplishments go mostly without saying. You'd be hard-pressed to find a major enterprise (or even small business, for that matter), that doesn't use some iteration of Microsoft software.
And LinkedIn, a much newer company, has slowly but steadily made a sizable impact on a number of industries. LinkedIn's recruiting tools are increasingly popular, helping account for just under $1.9 billion of the company's Talent and Solutions revenue in 2015. The company has also made strides as a professional blogging platform, a learning and development center, and has even tapped into the gig economy by introducing a freelancer-for-hire marketplace.
If you've been following LinkedIn for a while, none of this will surprise you. Back in 2014, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner revealed the company's vision for the next 10 years, which included lofty goals like:
- creating digital profiles for every company in the world and every member of the global work force (three billion people)
- representing every skill required to obtain every job
- providing learning development tools to enable members to develop those skills
"We want to step back and allow capital, all forms of capital, intellectual capital, working capital, and human capital to flow, to where it can best be leveraged, and in doing so, help lift and transform the global economy," said Weiner.
In two separate blog posts published yesterday on LinkedIn, Weiner and Microsoft chief Satya Nadella revealed how they plan to integrate their respective companies' products, as well as leverage Microsoft's scale.
These plans include:
- LinkedIn identity and network in Microsoft Outlook and the Office suite
- LinkedIn notifications within the Windows action center
- Enabling members drafting résumés in Word to update their profiles, and discover and apply to jobs on LinkedIn
- Extending the reach of Sponsored Content across Microsoft properties
- Enterprise LinkedIn Lookup powered by Active Directory and Office 365
- LinkedIn Learning available across the Office 365 and Windows ecosystem
- Developing a business news desk across the content ecosystem and MSN.com
- Redefining social selling through the combination of Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365
Some of these look like great ideas; others are downright cringe-worthy--which illustrates the nature of an acquisition like this one: Great potential, huge plans.
And an enormous opportunity to fail.
Let's see if they can pull it off.