I’ve been a LinkedIn member since August 2005, apparently was one of the first million subscribers and have found it an invaluable tool for network building, staying up to date with, and in contact with, my Connections and even generating enquiries.
LinkedIn was started in 2002 by Reid Hoffman with money his stake in PayPal when it was sold to eBay. From that small beginning LinkedIn has become the No.1 business networking site, a Facebook for business if you like and now has more than 440m subscribers.
In 2011, LinkedIn went public (IPO) at $45 per share, raising $350m and valuing the company at $9bn, making it one of the most successful public offerings since Google in 2004.
Linkedin’s share price very quickly doubled and continued to rise, peaking at $269 in early 2015. After that it’s been a bit up and down and fears of a downturn earlier this year saw share prices falling to $101 in February after which there was a recovery to $135 in May
Then, to everyone’s surprise, in June 2016 LinkedIn was bought by Microsoft for $26.2 billion (a significant $61 premium on the share price), in an all cash deal, making it Microsoft’s largest acquisition by a long way
Why did Microsoft buy LinkedIn, where did it see the value and what will it do with this highly respected business networking site?
Although Microsoft and LinkedIn don’t, at first glance, appear natural partners, they are closer than you might think. Under Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, there has been a strong move away from consumer software and operating systems (Windows) to business and cloud subscription services such as Office 365, enterprise solutions like Microsoft Dynamics and cloud storage – Onedrive and it’s possible that this, allied to the fact that LinkedIn has over 440m active users, helped in the decision making process, that’s just over $59.54 per user.
The addition of Skype (Microsoft owned) to LinkedIn could make the platform even more attractive, allowing voice and video conversations to take place within LinkedIn (possibly limited to LinkedIn subscribers).
LinkedIn already has some really basic Customer Relationship Management tools built in to “My Network” which enables you to add Tags to your Connections so that you can search by your own custom categories as well as directly Message groups of contacts.
Now, imagine how much more powerful this would be if there were full CRM functionality.
- Send emails to your Connections with a click with the contents held in the Client account
- Have incoming emails automatically added to client records rather than a simple folder in Outlook.
- Grouping sent and received emails together, in your Contact records
- Click to call via Skype
- Click to Video call via Skype
- Click to open pre-templated documents through Office 365 and have them stored in Contact records
The reality is that the world is their oyster – with a little thought, good programming and over 430m pre-existing accounts there’s a great deal for Microsoft to leverage..
Lynda.com an Outstanding Resource for Learning
It’s also easy to forget that LinkedIn owns lynda.com. An online education provider with more than 3,000 online learning video courses, created by industry experts and covering topics across business and leadership, creative and technology.
A service that was described as “an outstanding resource for video based learning” by PCmag
What happens Now
Although the deal has been approved by both boards and is expected to be finalised by the end of this year it still needs approval from a number of regulatory bodies
Microsoft have said that “LinkedIn” will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence which is good news for fans and users, although analysts at Credit Suisse have said “We recognise that Microsoft will be able to realise several strategic synergies”
A side effect of the sale has pushed Twitter shares 5.5% higher on speculation that it will be next to go, perhaps to Google – which has expressed interest on several occasions in the previous 4 years.
What actually happens is still to be decided but I’ll keep you up to date as, and when more news becomes available.
In the meantime, if you need help with LinkedIn and want to learn how it can really help you grow your business just get in touch for a free chat, give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org