Microsoft Bought LinkedIn: Good or Bad for Business-to-Business?
by Net Site Marketing™
Will the upcoming transaction be a Disastrous Deal or an Awesome Acquisition?
This summer Microsoft announced a deal where they will spend a whopping $26.2 billion on an all-cash purchase of LinkedIn. This acquisition will specifically combine Microsoft’s professional cloud capabilities with LinkedIn’s widespread professional network to allow B2B teams and businesses to have a more connected user experience. What could this mean for your business?
Most are hesitant to call the purchase a win or a loss. This will ultimately depend on how Microsoft intends to integrate LinkedIn into its current offerings.
To date, Microsoft has very little experience building thriving online communities outside of its investment in Facebook, which is more a consumer community than a business-to-business one. The main concern would be – what if LinkedIn was transformed from a professional networking website, to something more casual like Facebook. Some even might say it’s already starting to develop a look and feel similar to Facebook. If LinkedIn becomes more of a B2B social community run by ads and random pieces of content, the strategic value of the paid content and the quality of the connections may suffer and could ultimately drive members away from LinkedIn.
If, on the other hand, LinkedIn stays true to its original purpose of being a professional network and a place where keeping one’s contact information up-to-date is purposeful, then the value of that data and the network will continue to be strong for B2B marketers and to businesses.
Overall, Microsoft’s upcoming acquisition of LinkedIn has the inklings of being a great merger, if Microsoft keeps LinkedIn true to its original purpose of being a professional network and a place where keeping business information up-to-date is useful.
Microsoft’s ability to dominate within the business communications channel is evident, and has been for a long time. Email campaigns and correspondence may well be at the heart of the online user experience; with 85% of people online communicating through email. Microsoft owns the majority of business communications via Outlook in the e-mail channel. With the acquisition of LinkedIn, Microsoft will also own a business communications niche within an already well-known social media channel tailored for B2Bs.
LinkedIn is the world’s leading (and most valuable) professional network and continues to build a strong and growing business. Over the past year, the company has made several improvements. They:
- Launched a new version of its mobile app that has led to increased member engagement;
- Enhanced the LinkedIn newsfeed to deliver better business insights;
- Acquired a leading online learning platform called Lynda.com to enter a new market; and
- Rolled out a new version of its Recruiter product to its enterprise customers.
These innovations resulted in increased membership, engagement and financial results, including the following:
- 19 percent growth year over year (YOY) to more than 433 million members worldwide
- 9 percent growth YOY to more than 105 million unique visiting members per month
- 49 percent growth YOY to 60 percent mobile usage
- 34 percent growth YOY to more than 45 billion quarterly member page views
- 101 percent growth YOY to more than 7 million active job listings
The company is positioning itself with companies such as Salesforce to offer businesses a connected community and technology stack.
Currently, Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of LinkedIn has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both LinkedIn and Microsoft. The deal is expected to close this calendar year but is still subject to approval by LinkedIn’s shareholders.
In our humble opinion, we predict that overall the deal will be beneficial to business-to-business companies and B2B marketers alike. Your humble (or not-so-humble) opinions are also welcome!
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