We just talked to Satya Nadella and Jeff Weiner about why Microsoft decided to buy LinkedIn

Satya jeffMicrosoftSatya Nadelal and Jeff Weiner

Satya Nadella and Jeff Weiner talked to Business Insider this morning about why Microsoft just bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, the largest tech acquisition since the the peak of the dot-com era, when AOL spent $162 billion to buy Time Warner.

Why was Microsoft willing to pay such a hefty price for LinkedIn?

As Nadella explained, Microsoft asks three questions when looking at potential acquisitions:

  • Does it help Microsoft expand the addressable market?
  • Does it help “ride some new technology waves that are secular that are increasing engagement with users?”
  • Is it core to Microsoft, “is it something where Microsoft can uniquely differentiate?”

“If you look at those three questions, LinkedIn checks all those boxes,” Nadella said. One scenario he mentioned was walking into a meeting and getting a snapshot of each person in the meeting based on their LinkedIn profile.

As for specific product areas, “This is really all about expanding the opportunity we have, going beyond productivity and collaboration tools to having a professional network. It helps us differentiate our CRM product with social selling. It helps us take Dynamics [Microsoft’s suite of business management software] into new spaces like human capital management with recruiting, and learning, and talent management.”

Nadella also praised LinkedIn as a valuable asset in itself, and said the deal was partly about “expanding that asset with the distribution that Microsoft can bring.”

Weiner said he’s been impressed with Nadella “since he took over as CEO” in February 2014. “You see what he’s been doing with the company, the way in which Microsoft has become increasingly open and agile, innovative, purpose-driven — to do that at a company like Microsoft is amazing.”

LinkedIn’s stock has had a wild ride as well over the last six months, at one point losing more than 40% of its value in a single day after a disappointing Q4 earnings report in February. But Weiner denied that the sale was driven by any particular anxiety to sell or market conditions.

“It’s always been about our mission and vision,” Weiner told me. “In addition to being in a better position to realise that mission and vision, by virtue of Satya’s vision for operating LinkedIn as an independent entity, we’re going to have a chance to do that by continuing to manifest the same culture and values that got us here.”

Reid Hoffman, the LinkedIn founder and chairman, stated his support for the deal in the announcement, but his role at the new combined company has not yet been revealed.

“As we close it, it will become clear as to exactly what role Reid will play,” said Nadella.

Weiner added that Hoffman would “continue to partner with Satya and myself, Bill Gates and Satya’s operational leadership, to continue to develop the strategies to bring these incredible combination of assets together.”

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