Microsoft to spend $26.2B to acquire LinkedIn and grow its mobile business audience

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) will spend $26.2 billion in cash to acquire LinkedIn in a move aimed at helping professionals increase their productivity. And mobile will play a major role.

The companies said LinkedIn "will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence," and Jeff Weiner will stay in place as CEO, reporting to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. The deal is expected to close later this year.

"We are in pursuit of a common mission centered on empowering people and organizations," Nadella said in an open email to employees. "Along with the new growth in our Office 365 and Dynamics businesses the deal is key to our bold ambition to reinvent productivity and business processes.

"Think about it: How people find jobs, build skills, sell, market and get work done and ultimately find success requires a connected professional world," Nadella continued. "It requires a vibrant network that brings together a professional's information in LinkedIn's public network with the information in Office 365 and Dynamics. This combination will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you're trying to complete."

Much of that activity is sure to occur on mobile devices. LinkedIn said it has seen 49 percent year-over-year growth in mobile usage, and 60 percent of its traffic now occurs on smartphones and tablets. The company said in February that its mobile traffic grew during the fourth quarter of 2015 three times faster than overall member activity.

As Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet pointed out, the tie-up appears to be a good fit because Microsoft and LinkedIn have complementary graphs of a variety of data regarding business professionals. Microsoft has amassed an enormous amount of information such as users' contacts, messages, daily schedules and documents, while LinkedIn specializes in professional network data such as jobs, coworkers and prospects.

All that data could be particularly valuable when combined with the cloud, which has become a key point of focus for Microsoft. It could be used to present the most relevant, valuable information to businesspeople across devices, helping them network and increase productivity anywhere on any platform.

Leveraging that data will be a daunting challenge, of course. But if Microsoft can eventually do so effectively, it might gain substantial ground with professionals on mobile devices despite the company's inability to gain a foothold in the world of mobile operating systems.

For more:
- see this Microsoft press release

Related articles:
Microsoft Lumia sales plunge 73 percent in latest quarter
Mobile and smartphones almost entirely absent at Microsoft's Build conference
Microsoft kills Android bridge project for Windows 10 to focus iOS instead
Microsoft faces uphill climb convincing iOS and Android developers to port apps to Windows 10
Microsoft reportedly developing a Surface phone for release later next year