Microsoft explains why LinkedIn will be the opposite of the Nokia disaster

Microsoft may be excited about its $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, but it has a spotty history with gigantic acquisitions.

In 2012, Microsoft took a massive $6.2 billion writedown on the $6.3 billion acquisition of aQuantive. In 2015, just about a year ago, Microsoft took a $7.6 billion writedown on the legendary flameout of the Nokia acquisition.

But on a conference call with investors today, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that LinkedIn fits in to the company’s existing business way more smoothly than those past mega-deals.

“Our executional handicap is a lot lower than any of the others we’ve talked about in the past,” Nadella says.

Furthermore, Nadella says that unlike Nokia or aQuantive, Microsoft plans to let LinkedIn operate independently as a wholly owned subsidiary, like Instagram and WhatsApp are to Facebook.

“Of course we’ll learn from the past,” Nadella says.

In fact, Microsoft CFO Amy Hood says on that conference call that the combination of LinkedIn and Microsoft assets will actually help the company blow away an important financial milestone for the company.

Once the acquisition is complete, LinkedIn will be a part of Microsoft’s Commercial Cloud business unit, which includes crucial and fast-growing internet-based business products like Dynamics CRM and the Azure cloud platform.

Amy Hood Microsoft CFOStephen Brashear/Getty ImagesMicrosoft CFO Amy Hood

Microsoft has said that it wants to see the Commercial Cloud unit hit a $20 million annual run rate by fiscal year 2018. The company is more than halfway there, breaking $10 million by April 2016.

Now, Hood says that with the addition of LinkedIn’s revenue, plus the social network’s technology and product lines for HR departments and recruiters, Microsoft will actually beat that $20 million goal, ahead of schedule.

“That goal did not account for this type or scale of M&A,” Hood says. “I think this should accelerate our momentum beyond what we’ve talked about as our goal beyond FY18.”

With Microsoft turning its whole business to orient on the cloud, beating that milestone will be a nice feather in Nadella’s cap.

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