As a user LinkedIn’s sale to Microsoft is disappointing

Prantik MazumdarLinkedIn’s sale to Microsoft for US$26 bn yesterday is disappointing from the user perspective, writes Prantik Mazumdar.

I have been using LinkedIn for the last decade and have been an ardent fan. I have used the premium Sales Navigator as a salesperson, the Recruiter tool as an employer and Marketing Solutions as a brand marketer. And I sincerely believed in their grand vision of building the Economic Graph [digitally mapping the global economy to connect talent with opportunity on a massive scale].

The Economic GraphI must admit that as a power user and evangelist, I am quite disappointed and confused at LinkedIn’s decision to sell out so early in the game.

My disappointment lies with the fact that fundamentally the business has strong moats, with hardly any serious competitors; has a captive audience of 433 million subscribers; revenue that has been growing at healthy double digits and yet it caved to the short-term pressures of Wall Street following the stock crash in February 2016.

Beyond the disappointment, I am also skeptical of the potential synergies that the merger can bring to the table.

In theory the possibilities are enticing, with Microsoft integrating LinkedIn and Lynda with Office 365, Cortana integrating with LinkedIn to offer digital concierge services but the reality is that 70-90% of mergers fail due to cultural and leadership clashes. And Microsoft’s history attests to this fact given the post-merger write-offs or shutdowns we have seen with the likes of Nokia, aQuantive, Skype, Yammer and Sunshine!

LinkedIn executivesIf the short-termism of the markets was the primary driver for the sale, I would rather LinkedIn be taken private by a private equity firm or a management buyout.

I have little reason to believe that this mammoth acquisition will be any different but the fanboy in me hopes that Satya Nadella [Microsoft’s CEO] proves me wrong and helps LinkedIn realise Reid Hoffman’s original vision of building a powerful, global and intelligent Economic Graph.

Prantik Mazumdar is managing partner at Happy Marketer


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