Satya Nadella and Jeff Weiner

Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn closed yesterday after it cleared the final hurdle — European Commission approval — on Dec. 7. The deal had previously passed reviews in the U.S., Canada, Brazil and South Africa.

The result is that Microsoft now has a $26.2 billion company that is chockablock with personal and company information on which the Redmond, Wash.-based giant now has to turn a buck.

The Microsoft LinkedIn Picture Gets Clearer

Until now, people have only been able to speculate on where LinkedIn would fit in the broader Microsoft puzzle. 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner made a joint presentation in June (pdf) to share their vision of how the acquisition would play out:

“Today all the information a professional need to be successful lives in silos. By connecting the world’s leading professional cloud and professional network, we can create more connected, intelligence and productive experiences. We also have the opportunity to accelerate the realization of the Economic Graph.”

While it sounded nice in theory, it was difficult to see how the companies would achieve this. 

That changed yesterday when Nadella explained in a blog post posted on LinkedIn (of course) the companies plans in the short term.

“Today I am even more enthusiastic about the common mission and sense of purpose we share, the similarities in our cultures, and the added value we can create for LinkedIn members, to help professionals transform how they work, realize new career opportunities and connect in new ways,” he wrote.

The Nitty Gritty of the Microsoft-LinkedIn Integrations

Nadella then dove into a list of proposed immediate integrations. What's noticeable in both his statement above and in the proposed integrations is how Microsoft's productivity apps feature prominently, which supports recent developments in the Microsoft productivity suite, Office 365. 

Among those integrations are:

  • LinkedIn identity and network in Microsoft Outlook and the Office suite
  • LinkedIn notifications within the Windows action center
  • Enabling members drafting resumes in Word to update their profiles, and discover and apply to jobs on LinkedIn
  • Extending the reach of sponsored content across Microsoft properties
  • Enterprise LinkedIn Lookup powered by Active Directory and Office 365
  • LinkedIn Learning available across the Office 365 and Windows ecosystem
  • Developing a business news desk across the content ecosystem and MSN.com
  • Redefining social selling through the combination of Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365

For workers, this means that users’ LinkedIn identity and network will be available across Outlook and the Office suite, and that LinkedIn notifications will appear within the Windows Action Center.

How LinkedIn Could Feed Microsoft Graph and Delve

One of the clear benefits is what LinkedIn offers for Microsoft Graph.

Part of the Microsoft productivity suite of applications, Graph allows applications to access digital work and digital life data across the intelligent Microsoft cloud.

It surfaces intelligent insights by bringing together smart machine learning algorithms, data and user behavior from a single point.

Microsoft built Delve on top of Graph to personalize content delivery to employees based on their interests, relationships and activities.  

Delve does this through its ability to identify signals, trends, relationships, social connections and content that relate to each other.

Now think about adding LinkedIn into the mix. By its own accounts, LinkedIn is present in 200 countries and territories, has 433 million members and more that 105 million monthly active users.

The result is a user experience that is richer and contextualized for every worker that uses it.

Nadella Reaching for Low Hanging Fruit

For Richard Edwards, principal research analyst at Ovum, this is the real value proposition of the acquisition.

Between LinkedIn and Microsoft, he told CMSWire, the two companies store and surface a great deal of the information that business professionals use daily. Microsoft holds the corporate graph (internal connections, associations and areas of interest/practice) and LinkedIn holds the professional graph.

“I would categorize the progress outlined in Satya Nadella’s blog post as 'picking the low-hanging-fruit,' with more time needed to deliver real business value."

LinkedIn's Weiner, who will remain as CEO and report directly to Satya Nadella, thinks little will change in the short term.

“As we move forward, our day-to-day operations will essentially remain unchanged: We’ll continue to have the same mission and vision, the same culture and values, the same brand, and the same leadership team,” he wrote in his own LinkedIn blog post announcing the closing of the deal.

Microsoft's Spotty Acquisitions Record

Microsoft doesn’t have a great record of integrating acquisitions. 

In 2012, it took a $6.2 billion write-off for its 2007 acquisition of digital advertising firm aQuantive, and did the same again in 2015, this time writing off $7.6 billion from its 2013 acquisition of the Nokia mobile unit. 

It also dragged its heels following its 2012 Yammer acquisition, giving competitors like Slack an opportunity to nip at its heels.

As Edwards noted, “It took Microsoft an age to integrate Yammer with Office 365 (and the work’s not yet complete), so let’s wait and see how quickly Microsoft can move on this.”

He added that with Facebook in the hunt for new business, the pressure is on for Microsoft to get a move on, as the value of LinkedIn is proportional to the economic activity it is able to stimulate and generate.

However, Microsoft under Nadella has proven to be a different animal than Microsoft under former CEO Steve Ballmer. Nadella has proven to be both fast acting and decisive when it comes to implementing change.

By uniting these two interconnecting networks, Microsoft hopes to achieve value that is greater than the sum of its parts.