Category Archives: LinkedIn

SEC filing shows LinkedIn negotiating skills are worth $5bn

Microsoft To Layoff 18,000The US Securities and Exchange Committee has released its filings outlining the road to Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn, during which $5 billion was added to the value of the deal, reports

Five parties were involved in the saga, which eventually led to the news breaking on June 13, with Microsoft agreeing to acquire LinkedIn in an all-cash deal worth $26.2 billion. Although it has not been confirmed by the companies themselves according to Re/code Party A, which kicked the frenzy, was Salesforce. Party B was Google, which was also interested in pursuing the acquisition.

Party C and Party D were contacted by LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner to register interest however both parties declined after a couple of days consideration. Party C remains unknown, though Party D is believed to be Facebook, who even if had shown interest in the deal, may have faced a tough time in passing the agreement by competition authorities.

In terms of the timeline, a business combination was first discussed by Weiner and Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO during a meeting on February 16, with Party A being brought into the frame almost a month later on March 10. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has confirmed several times in recent weeks his team were in discussions with LinkedIn regarding the acquisition. In the following days, Party B was brought into the mix, also declaring interest. Once the interest of Party A and B were understood, Microsoft was brought back into the mix on March 15 with the report stating:

“Mr. Weiner called Mr. Nadella to inquire as to whether Microsoft was interested in discussing further a potential acquisition of LinkedIn, and explained that, although LinkedIn was not for sale, others had expressed interest in an acquisition. Mr. Nadella responded that he would discuss the matter further with Microsoft’s board of directors.”

Prior to the agreement LinkedIn was valued at roughly $130 per share, with the initial offer recorded at $160. Microsoft eventually paid $196 per share, though this was not the highest bid received. The company referred to as Party A in the document put an offer forward of $200 per share, though this would be half cash and half shares in the company. Weiner negotiating skills have seemingly added approximately 50% to the value of LinkedIn shares and bumping up the total value of the deal by $5 billion.

The exclusivity agreement was signed on May 14, though pressure had been put on LinkedIn by both Microsoft and Party A in the weeks prior. It would appear Party A had not been deterred by the agreement, as additional bids were made, once again driving up the perceived value of LinkedIn shares. Microsoft’s offer of $182 was no longer perceived high enough, and encouraged to match Party A’s offer of $200. The report states LinkedIn Executive Chairman Reid Hoffman was in favour of an all cash deal, allowing Microsoft extra negotiating room. Nadella was eventually informed on June 10 the offer had been authorized by the LinkedIn Transactions Committee.

Although Microsoft could be seen to overpaying on the price, it would be worth noting LinkedIn has been valued at higher. The company initially launched its IPO in 2011 and had a promising year in 2013 increasing the share price from $113.5 to over $200 across the 12 month period. Share prices rose to over $250 last November, following quarterly results in February, share prices dropped 44% after projected full-year revenues at $3.6 billion to $3.65 billion, versus $3.9 billion expected by analysts. Considering the fall in fortunes, it may be fair to assume shareholders would be pleased with the value of the deal approaching $200 per share.

While Microsoft has been a relatively quiet player in the social market prior to the acquisition, though this could be seen as a means to penetrate the burgeoning market segment. Although the place of social media in the workplace remains to be seen, Microsoft has essentially bought a substantial amount of data, including numerous high-net worth individuals and important decision makers throughout the world. LinkedIn currently has roughly 431 million members and is considered to be the largest professional social media worldwide.

Another explanation for the deal could be the value of Microsoft to IT decision makers. A report from JPMorgan stated Microsoft would be considered the most important vendor by CIOs to their organization due to the variety of services offered. AWS is generally considered to be the number one player in the public cloud market, though Microsoft offers a wider range of enterprise products including servers, data centres, security solutions, and cloud offerings, amongst many more. Now social can be added to the list. As Microsoft increases its offerings, it could penetrate further into a company’s fabric, making it a much more complicated decision to change vendor.

Microsoft commits to $26bn LinkedIn purchase in social media play

social mediaMicrosoft has made a play to enter the social market after announcing it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.

The announcement will create one of the largest cloud acquisitions this year, with LinkedIn shares jumping 47% following the news. During the same period Microsoft shares dropped 3%, possibly indicating some scepticism in the market.

“This deal brings together the world’s leading professional cloud with the world’s leading professional network,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft in a note to employees. “I have been learning about LinkedIn for some time while also reflecting on how networks can truly differentiate cloud services.”

Microsoft does already play a role within the social media market, but more from the perspective of providing tools for online advertisers and media agencies. Although the LinkedIn purchase is almost 50% above market value, it could be seen as a much safer play than attempting to crack the social market organically. Google and Apple have seemingly learnt this lesson the harder way, launching Google+ and iTunes Ping respectively, neither of which seemed to have gathered much momentum.

Advertising revenues may be attractive to executives at Microsoft, the move could fall into the wider strategy of being the all-encompassing enterprise IT vendor. Research from JPMorgan highlighted Microsoft is valued as the most important vendor in the IT space due to the broad range of offerings. While others specialize in individual areas, Microsoft has created its position as the ‘one-stop-shop’ enterprise IT vendor. The acquisition of the ‘enterprise social media network’ could fill a whole in the portfolio, building on the theme of collaboration.

“We are in pursuit of a common mission centred on empowering people and organizations,” said Nadella in a note to employees. “Along with the new growth in our Office 365 commercial and Dynamics businesses this 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. 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.”

While the two companies could be seen as complimentary, it would appear a combination of the two would create a total addressable market (TAM) of $315 billion. According to a joint slide-deck shared by the team, LinkedIn has a TAM of $115 billion where as Microsoft can account for $200 billion. The team believe by joining forces and further diversifying the offering, this number can be further increased through differentiated experiences.

LinkedIn is billed as the largest professional social network globally, and has been growing steadily to 433 million members in recent years. The team have introduced a number of new features in recent months which it credits for increased engagement levels as well as membership numbers. Over the last 12 months the team at LinkedIn launched a new version of its mobile app, acquired online learning platform and launched a Recruiter product for its enterprise customers.

The number of social media users worldwide is estimated at 2.22 billion, with Facebook controlling the largest share at 1.59 billion. Judging the market value of social on the whole gives widely varied results, though Facebook did announce revenues for Q1 of $5.4 billion, a 52% year-on-year growth. The company now claims to have 3 million active advertisers on Facebook and over 200,000 on Instagram.

While the news will dominate technology headlines, there will still be some questions surrounding the integration of LinkedIn into the wider Microsoft portfolio. Office was a prominent character in Nadella’s email to employees, though whether this means LinkedIn will be incorporated into Office proposition has not been stated. For some, the role of social in the workplace is still unclear.

Following the completion of the deal which is expected by the close of the year, Jeff Weiner will remain LinkedIn CEO, reporting into Nadella.