The tech world was left reeling yesterday after it was announced that Microsoft is going to be buying the social network site LinkedIn for an eye-watering $26.2 billion cash. The deal works out at $196 a share, a premium of almost 50% to Friday’s closing share price.
If, for any reason, the deal doesn’t go through, LinkedIn will have to pay Microsoft a $725 million termination fee.
The acquisition is one of the largest technology deals on record, and is certainly the all-time biggest deal for Microsoft, whose other transactions include the purchase of Skype for $8.5 billion and Nokia for $9.5 billion. It seems so far, for Microsoft, few of their purchases actually pay off, and I’m sure I’m not the only one whose sole experience with Nokia is playing Snake in the early 2000s.
But, with the acquisition of LinkedIn comes a new wave of hope for Microsoft, as they will soon have access to the world’s largest professional social network with more than 430 million users worldwide. Not bad for a company who have famously struggled to keep up with explosion of Facebook and Google.
These days, Microsoft seems to focus solely on software, alongside the occasional failed attempt to buy other organisations (rumours include Salesforce and Slack). However, the acquisition of LinkedIn could finally allow Microsoft to get a foot in the door of the social networking, and see what life is like on the other side.
Chief Executive Satya Nadella seems adamant that LinkedIn and Microsoft will complement each other. Currently, he says, work life is split between work tools such as PowerPoint or Excel, and professional networks that connect the professionals. The deal will aim to combine these two pieces, with Nadella vision of a user’s LinkedIn profile embedded in other elements of their work, connecting with Windows, Outlook, Skype and Microsoft Office.
He said in an interview that the deal is ‘really the coming together of the professional cloud and the professional network’. Microsoft’s Dynamics software can be built on due to the integration of LinkedIn, as it will the site’s analytics to help companies manage relationships with clients and sell more products.
Microsoft also has visions for Lynda.com, which LinkedIn bought for $1.5 billion last year, a channel for training videos. Microsoft aims to be able to play Lynda’s videos inside it’s own software, such as PowerPoint or Excel spreadsheets.
Growth has been a challenge for both Microsoft and LinkedIn, so perhaps greater things are on the horizon for the two companies. Then again, perhaps not. Decelerating growth this year means LinkedIn’s stock dropped from a peak of $269 in 2015 to a meagre $101.11 last February.
So is the acquisition of LinkedIn a mistake because of it’s stagnant growth and last year’s annual loss? Only time will tell, but everyone involved seems fairly confident. Let’s not forget though, they were also confident about Nokia.