Microsoft won't close off access to LinkedIn's data for other software makers

Marc BenioffBusiness InsiderSalesforce CEO Marc Benioff

After Microsoft completes its acquisition of LinkedIn, Microsoft won’t stop other software vendors from accessing LinkedIn’s data the way they can access it today, Microsoft executive vice president Scott Guthrie told French tech publication, JDN.

Guthrie was visiting France for a Microsoft event there and spoke with JDN’s Antoine Crochet Damais. Damais asked Guthrie about the issue raised by Salesforce to regulators in Europe. Salesforce had attempted to buy LinkedIn itself and it was trying to convince regulators to either stop Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn or impose conditions on it. Salesforce was concerned that Microsoft would shutter access to LinkedIn’s data.

But Guthrie said it would continue to be open. He told JDN (emphasis ours, via a translated page):

“LinkedIn is open today and other enterprises and ISVs [Independent Software Vendors] are also integrated with it. We will continue to allow this. So, other CRM providers and other companies will also draw full advantage of these opportunities,” he said. He also added that other software “editors” would be allowed to containing accessing LinkedIn’s data.

Microsoft Scott GuthrieMicrosoftMicrosoft EVP of cloud Scott Guthrie

Microsoft and Salesforce compete over customer relationship management software (CRM), which helps salespeople manage their interactions with prospects and customers. It is Salesforce’s flagship product.

LinkedIn is heavily used by salespeople, who sift through LinkedIn profiles (and other social media sites) to find prospects. If Salesforce’s customers were blocked from LinkedIn, that would be a big blow to them and to Salesforce.

Damais rightly points out that we don’t know what terms and conditions Microsoft will place on granting access to LinkedIn’s data to other software vendors. For now, it sounds like Microsoft will simply continue to use LinkedIn’s own terms and conditions.

But the fact that Microsoft is offering public reassurances about this is interesting for another reason.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was reportedly looking at buying Twitter, which would have been like a consolation prize acquisition to help Salesforce achieve a similar goal with data.

Now, Benioff is talking as if his interest in Twitter has cooled, especially given the many billions he would have to pay to acquire it, and how his company’s stock tanked just from reports that he was considering such a deal.

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