I am a huge fan and advocate of LinkedIn. I’ve always supported the professional social network, even when most people tended to ignore it. That will not change, however, with the announcement of Microsoft purchasing the social network, I am now more wary of what it may turn into.
I woke up this morning to some startling news. Microsoft just announced that they had purchased LinkedIn for approximately $26.2 billion in a cash deal. This story made my stomach turn. Not because of the growth opportunities, or the synergies that Microsoft may have with the professional social networking platform, but the fear of what it may become.
I am a huge fan of LinkedIn. Everything about it from the start was professional and, well not Facebook. Back in 2008, many of my friends did not utilize LinkedIn. I was the opposite. In fact, it was LinkedIn that got me an interview with a multi-national company that would later offer me a position in Hawaii and allow me to travel the world for the last seven years. Thank you, LinkedIn!
LinkedIn has always been a big part of how I have stayed connected, grown my network, and built my credibility and authority. It has also continued to lead to new opportunities. Just this past March, I was nominated to the Governing Board for a non-profit here in Chicago called Goldie’s Place. I found out about the volunteer position through LinkedIn. I am currently raising money for Goldie’s – click here to read more of my story and how your donations help those facing hardships.
LinkedIn’s Rapid Growth
Over the last year, LinkedIn has grown rapidly, introducing new products and purchasing Lynda.com to expand the skills and learning division. These new products and the purchase of Lynda.com fit well into the vertical. LinkedIn was becoming a valuable brand that was building a solid foundation. It was developing into a BrandedWorld Organization, enhancing its core platform with complimentary platforms.
While the company’s share price dropped significantly in February of 2016, the business remained sound and the strategy that was being executed was on track. Since February, the stock had recovered some of the loss and on the news of Microsoft purchasing them, it surged 47% to approximately $194 a share.
I was excited to see where LinkedIn goes next. Now, that’s somewhat up in the air.
Microsoft’s Transformation and Pivot to the Cloud
Since Nadella became CEO of Microsoft, he has been on a mission to pivot to the cloud, ramping up services such as Office 365 and Dynamics. The missing puzzle piece for Microsoft has been social.
“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella said in a statement. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.”
Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn will stay on and reassured LinkedIn staff that little is expected to change and that employees will have the same titles and managers.
“The one exception: For those members of the team whose jobs are entirely focused on maintaining LinkedIn’s status as a publicly traded company, we’ll be helping you find your next play,” Weiner said. “Regarding everything else, it should be business as usual. We have the same mission and vision; we have the same culture and values, and I’m still the CEO of LinkedIn.”
Will LinkedIn’s Brand Fade Over Time?
Microsoft has a history of buying startups and brands that have raving fans, only to break them apart. When this happens, the brand value gets lost, the raving fans fall off, and soon, what once was a great product with a built in the community, becomes a feature of a larger ecosystem of tools.
One particular app that I loved when it first came out was Skype. It was new, made calling overseas a breeze, and was simple to use. Once Microsoft purchased it, it felt different. Some of the features that were prominent faded and some of the secure processes became harder to use. While I still use Skype, I’ve not been as keen on it as I was just a few years ago. What is that brand value worth?
From a strategic standpoint, buying LinkedIn is a fantastic move. It gives Microsoft a social platform, it extends its cloud services, and it gains access to all of the businesses that utilize LinkedIn for sales and recruiting, strengthening its enterprise business line.
The question that remains is if Microsoft will allow LinkedIn to keep its brand value and growth strategy intact, without tearing it apart as other brands have been in the past.
Over to You
Does Microsoft buying LinkedIn make the most sense? Will it change your perception of LinkedIn or your current use of the platform? Leave a comment below and join the conversation!