Six Reasons to Care About Microsoft's LinkedIn Acquisition

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The purchase is expected to close by end of year
The purchase is expected to close by end of year

In a surprise and groundbreaking move, Microsoft this morning announced a $26.2 billion deal to acquire the B2B social platform LinkedIn. LinkedIn shares bounced 48 percent following the announcement, although Microsoft stock was slightly down. The allure may have worn off LinkedIn over the past couple of years, but that doesn't mean this isn't a good move for the big beast of Redmond, Wa.

Here are six reasons for marketers to care about this move, especially given the rich reservoir of professional data, which LinkedIn has hardly begun to tap.

  1. CRM meets social. Perhaps the most striking part of this deal is the opportunity to crunch LinkedIn's 430-plus million professional profiles with the data in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Overshadowed by Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics likely gets a big boost from matching this highly relevant social treasure trove with clients' first-party data for marketing purposes.

  2. A shot in the arm for Microsoft's marketing offering. Microsoft Dynamics Marketing might be an “integrated marketing resource management solution,” but who even thinks of it ahead of Adobe, Oracle, Saleforce and even IBM's marketing suites? It's not clear what the LinkedIn purchase adds to its Social Engagement tool, but overall it can only raise the profile of Microsoft's marketing products--at least among B2B marketers.

  3. A refreshed approach. While Microsoft has a spotty track record on buying ascendant properties and then leaving them to languish, it is apparent that LinkedIn's own strategy has atrophied recently: monthly active users are only up 9 percent on last year. Microsoft may be able to identify ways to reinvigorate the brand.

  4. A social network for Microsoft. LinkedIn has never been a true public social network, in the sense that people actively went on the site to network and communicate with colleagues and industry players. It's been more a database or a resource than an active tool (although LinkedIn's own attempt to drive marketing solutions from the database have remained a work-in-progress). Microsoft has forever expressed interest in social networks, but never really took the plunge. Through this acquisition, they have the opportunity to finally put whatever plans they've had into action.

  5. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. For all its faults, LinkedIn still has 7 million active job offerings. This is a profitable business that Microsoft can accelerate given their strong foothold in the B2B community.

  6. A boost for Yammer? Remember Yammer, the Twitter for internal enterprise communications? Perhaps a LinkedIn integration with Yammer can help the tool compete with the Slack behemoth.

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