With LinkedIn under its belt, Microsoft will own one of the largest social networks in the world. The move could help the company reconnect with both business and individual customers.
"I can see plenty of ways how LinkedIn can help Microsoft fulfill its promise to increase productivity and streamline business processes," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "I've always felt that LinkedIn was an overlooked social network that has an amazing potential for business use. Microsoft sees this too and, if they execute correctly, should see a great return on their hefty investment."
Olds added that with one fell swoop, this move could vault Microsoft into the top ranks of global social networks.
"This is a hugely bold move for Microsoft," he said.
The acquisition will be the largest in Microsoft's history.
In an email to employees today, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called the purchase key to the company's "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," Nadella wrote in the email, made public on Microsoft's site. "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."
With more than 433 million members in 200 countries, LinkedIn is the self-proclaimed largest professional social network in the world.
Judith Hurwitz, an analyst with Hurwitz & Associates, said the acquisition is meant to bring Microsoft back to the center of the enterprise, where it held reign for decades.
"It is definitely an expensive move," she said. "Microsoft wants to use LinkedIn in conjunction with Office365, especially, to create a unified environment for building business linkages. For customers who are very Microsoft centric, it could be potentially very effective... I think Microsoft wants to return to a model where they control the entire customer experience. It is an ambitious play."
Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said that for Microsoft, operating LinkedIn could go beyond having a social networking entity.
"It is part of a comprehensive strategy to focus back on users and line managers and position against new competitors," he said.
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