Microsoft adds LinkedIn to its professional network for $26.2 billion

Microsoft announced this morning that it will be acquiring professional social network LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, or $196 per share, in an all-cash transaction. That price represents about a 33% premium on LinkedIn's $131.08 closing price from last Friday. The companies say that LinkedIn "will retain its distinct brand, culture, and independence." The deal has already been approved by both companies' boards of directors, and the companies expect the transaction will close by the end of this year. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner will remain at his post, and he'll report directly to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

In its presentation regarding the deal (PowerPoint), Microsoft envisions a future where professionals' LinkedIn data will eventually become central to services like Windows, Outlook, Skype, and SharePoint. The company calls the profile a single "source of truth" for a professional's identity, background, and accomplishments. The company's vision also includes a future where data from Office apps is integrated with a professional's LinkedIn news feed. LinkedIn data might also be made available to Microsoft's Cortana assistant, whose future role in business might include bringing you up to speed on a meeting participant's background and sharing Office docs with those participants, all using LinkedIn's "social graph."

Microsoft also sees value in LinkedIn's Learning platform (formerly, an online resource that offers a wide range of courses for professional development. LinkedIn Learning might be integrated with Office apps in the future to bring employees up to speed on a task right when they need the help. Redmond's Dynamics CRM service might also connect to LinkedIn's Sales Navigator product to help sales professionals engage in "social selling."

If this deal goes through, it would appear to be Microsoft's largest acquisition ever. We can only guess that the company is looking past Windows and Office into a post-PC future. CEOs Nadella and Weiner will be hosting a conference call at 11:45 AM ET (8:45 AM PT) to discuss the acquisition.

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