Microsoft announced Monday morning that it has agreed to acquire LinkedIn for $196 per share, or $26.2 billion.
The two companies said in a press release that Jeff Weiner will remain CEO of LinkedIn, reporting to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and that LinkedIn co-founder, chairman and controlling shareholder Reid Hoffman and Weiner “fully support this transaction.” Weiner, Nadella and Hoffman are pictured below.
Microsoft and LinkedIn added:
LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence.
The two companies also cited the following growth milestone achieved by LinkedIn over the past year:
- 19 percent growth year-over-year to more than 433 million members worldwide.
- 9 percent growth YOY to more than 105 million unique visiting members per month.
- 49 percent growth YOY to 60 percent mobile usage.
- 34 percent growth YOY to more than 45 billion quarterly member page views.
- 101 percent growth YOY to more than 7 million active job listings.
The boards of directors of both companies have approved the deal, and Microsoft and LinkedIn said they expect the transaction to close by year-end.
Weiner said in the press release:
Just as we have changed the way the world connects to opportunity, this relationship with Microsoft, and the combination of their cloud and LinkedIn’s network, now gives us a chance to also change the way the world works. For the last 13 years, we’ve been uniquely positioned to connect professionals to make them more productive and successful, and I’m looking forward to leading our team through the next chapter of our story.
Today is a re-founding moment for LinkedIn. I see incredible opportunity for our members and customers and look forward to supporting this new and combined business. I fully support this transaction and the board’s decision to pursue it, and will vote my shares in accordance with their recommendation on it.
And Nadella said:
The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals. Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics, as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.
Weiner added in a blog post:
Today we are excited to share that LinkedIn has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Microsoft. We are joining forces with Microsoft to realize a common mission to empower people and organizations. LinkedIn’s vision–to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce–is not changing and our members still come first.
Our companies are the world’s leading professional cloud and network. This deal will allow us to keep growing, investing in and innovating on LinkedIn to drive value for our members and our customers. Our members will continue to develop their skills, find a job and be great at that job, using our platform. We will continue to help our customers hire top talent, market their brand, and sell to their customers.
The LinkedIn you know and value is only getting better. LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence. We’ve been changing the way the world’s professionals have connected to opportunity for 13 years, and this is an opportunity for us to truly change the way the world works on a massive scale.
He offered even more insight about the deal in his email to LinkedIn employees, which he shared in an influencer post. Highlights follow:
Dec. 15, 2008, marked the first day of the best job I’ve ever had. My rationale for joining LinkedIn was simple: The opportunity to work with Reid Hoffman, a founder I greatly admired and respected; to join an extremely talented and dedicated team; and to massively scale LinkedIn’s membership and business, both of which had the potential to fundamentally transform the way the world connects to opportunity. Never in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined what would happen in the next seven-and-one-half years. Our team has grown from 338 people to over 10,000, our membership from 32 million to over 433 million and our revenue from $78 million to over $3 billion.
No matter what you’re feeling now, give yourself some time to process the news. You might feel a sense of excitement, fear, sadness or some combination of all of those emotions. Every member of the exec team has experienced the same, but we’ve had months to process. Regardless of the ups and downs, we’ve come out the other side knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is the best thing for our company.
In order to pursue our mission and vision, and to do so in a way consistent with our culture and values, we need to control our own destiny.
That, above all else, is the most important rationale behind today’s announcement.
At this point, some of you may be thinking this sounds completely counterintuitive: How will we be more likely to control our own destiny after being acquired? The answer lies in both the way in which the world has been evolving and the unique way in which this deal will be structured.
Imagine a world where we’re no longer looking up at Tech Titans such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, and wondering what it would be like to operate at their extraordinary scale–because we’re one of them.
Imagine a world where we’re not reacting to the intensifying competitive landscape–we’re leading it with advantages most companies can only dream of leveraging.
Imagine a world where we’re not pressured to compromise on long-term investment, hesitant to disrupt ourselves or hamstrung in the way we can reward and acquire new talent due to stock price concerns, but consistently investing intelligently toward the realization of our mission and vision.
And imagine a world where a global economic downturn doesn’t limit our ability to execute, but reinforces the essential quality of our purpose and actually strengthens our resolve when people need us most.
With today’s news, we won’t need to imagine any of it because it’s now our reality.
Some of you may be asking, “Why Microsoft?”
Long before Satya and I first sat down to talk about how we could work together, I had publicly shared my thoughts on how impressive his efforts were to rapidly transition Microsoft’s strategy and culture. After all, it’s extremely rare to see a company of that scope and scale move so quickly to make fundamental changes.
The Microsoft that has evolved under Satya’s leadership is a more agile, innovative, open and purpose-driven company. It was that latter point that first had me thinking we could make this work, but it was his thoughts on how we’d do it that got me truly excited about the prospect.
When Satya first proposed the idea of acquiring LinkedIn, he said it was absolutely essential that we had alignment on two things: purpose and structure. On the former, it didn’t take long before the two of us realized we had virtually identical mission statements. For LinkedIn, it was to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful, and for Microsoft it was to empower every individual and organization in the world to achieve more. Essentially, we’re both trying to do the same thing but coming at it from two different places: For LinkedIn, it’s the professional network, and for Microsoft, the professional cloud.
Both of us recognized that combining these assets would be unique and had the potential to unlock some enormous opportunities.
Long story short, Satya had me at “independence.” In other words, his vision was to operate LinkedIn as a fully independent entity within Microsoft, a model used with great success by companies like YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp. I would remain as CEO and report directly to him instead of a board. Together, along with Reid, Bill Gates, my former colleague Qi Lu and new partner Scott Guthrie, we would partner on how best to leverage this extraordinary combination of assets while pursuing a shared mission. This, we both agreed, might not only be a structure that could work, it would be one in which both companies could thrive.
I wanted to conclude on a familiar note. One of the most memorable moments I’ve experienced at LinkedIn was ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. I remember the all-hands meeting we had following the event like it was yesterday. During that meeting, we reinforced the fact that becoming public was not the end game, but rather a stepping stone in the process of our ultimate objectives. We finished the all-hands with two words that have become LinkedIn’s unofficial mantra: “Next play.” In other words, don’t dwell on the past, lingering for too long on a lesson learned, or the celebration of a special accomplishment, but rather focus on the task at hand. It’s a mantra that’s served us well.
So, here’s to the next stepping stone.
Readers: What are your initial thoughts on Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn?