Microsoft Merging with LinkedIn

LinkedIn Members Need to Meditate

This morning, for the first time, employees of LinkedIn, SlideShare, Lynda.com, Skype, Xbox, Yammer, Nokia, Rapportive, and Microsoft (and over 400 million LinkedIn users) are all starting their meditation sessions, in the lotus position, contemplating the mantra, “We are ALL Microsoft now.”

On Monday, Microsoft announced a deal to buy LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in cash, a premium price, but one that Microsoft can surely afford. Reactions from LinkedIn members and watchers, were mostly similar to that of LinkedIn expert, Viveka von Rosen, who dashed off a quick headline, “Microsoft Just Bought LinkedIn… Holy Crap!”

Of all LinkedIn’s partners, employees of SlideShare, an online competitor to Microsoft’s PowerPoint, might need some extra meditation time to contemplate the future.

Jeff Weiner will remain CEO of LinkedIn, and LinkedIn reportedly will be an independent subsidiary of Microsoft. But in their joint announcement on CNBC, Satya Nadella looked excited and energized while Jeff looked more like his dog just died.

Joint announcement of Microsoft - LinkedIn merger

Many LinkedIn users are hoping that Microsoft and its expertise can improve LinkedIn and its customer experience. Even the LinkedIn Curmudgeon is mildly optimistic that Microsoft’s expertise and large employee base might be able to change LinkedIn.

The Curmudgeon’s wish list of how Microsoft might improve LinkedIn includes:

  • Microsoft’s security team improving LinkedIn’s security after the reverberations from earlier hackings into LinkedIn data.
  • Perhaps the owners of Word and Outlook (and Hotmail/Outlook.com) could improve LinkedIn’s contact management system, increase the ability to import more LinkedIn data into a contact manager (oh, say, maybe even Outlook?), and improve LinkedIn’s internal email system to include such revolutionary features as boldface and italic (or even HTML – but I dream).
  • Although hardly Microsoft’s greatest success, it does have experience with smart phone software (or has bought that experience). Perhaps that could improve LinkedIn’s design of phone apps? Speeding up the development of non-Apple apps would be excellent, too.
  • As an international corporation, Microsoft has had even more success around the world than LinkedIn, perhaps that will improve LinkedIn’s ability to recruit new members globally.
  • And maybe, Microsoft with it’s 40 years of experience of designing user interfaces (both successful and un-) can help LinkedIn untangle its cryptic user experience.
  • Maybe those guys runing Bing could improve, or at least explain, LinkedIn’s mysterious search algorithms.
  • Among other technical issues, Microsoft might supply some expertise in keeping software features working (instead of mysteriously disappearing and reappearing a day or two later). Also, not taking two months to roll out new features to all users might be a blessing that Microsoft users are accustomed to. (Or are they?)
  • And maybe, just maybe, Microsoft could suggest some organizational changes to improve the general development of LinkedIn.

 

This is not to say that Microsoft is flawless in these areas, but as one of the largest companies in the world, if they don’t have the expertise they can buy it, which they are proving, in spades, with this purchase.

In the meantime, regulators in several countries will have to approve the purchase and the actual transaction is scheduled around the end of this year. Again, the LinkedIn Curmudgeon is mildly optimistic this will happen. (This mild optimism by the Curmudgeon is unusual when thinking about LinkedIn.)

Heck, he might even drag out his old copy of Office 2007 and see if it still works. (Or maybe not.)

The other mantra we all might meditate on, ’We live in interesting times.’

LinkedIn + Microsoft2

Credits

Title photo “Microsoft Fishing” is a composite. The shark and hand feeding image is by “iosphere” and FreeDigitalPhotos.net. The LinkedIn network image is from LinkedIn.

The image of Satya and Jeff is from a CNBC video report announcing the merger, curiously featured in a SlideShare presentation.

The Microsoft LinkedIn blue screen is from Microsoft’s SlideShare presentation about the acquisition.

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