Microsoft to acquire LinkedIn

Microsoft has announced that it plans to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. The deal to acquire the work-focused social networking giant is an all-cash transaction, and it will value LinkedIn’s shares at $196 each. Microsoft says LinkedIn will retain its own brand and independence, and existing CEO Jeff Weiner will remain and report directly to Satya Nadella.

“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella said. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.” Microsoft is planning to close its acquisition later this year, and the deal has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

This is Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s first big acquisition since he took over the top job more than two years ago. It is positioning the combination as the “world’s leading professional cloud” together with the “world’s leading professional network.” It’s clear this is a big acquisition for Microsoft, both in terms of cash value and what LinkedIn brings to the company. More than 433 million people use LinkedIn worldwide to network, find jobs, and reconnect with old colleagues. Many of those LinkedIn users also pay for premium services to use the site.

Microsoft isn’t saying exactly what it will use its LinkedIn acquisition for, but it’s easy to imagine it being used as a key way to boost the company’s social networking presence. It did invest in Facebook in the relatively early stages, but the company has struggled to break into enterprise social networks. Microsoft spent $1.2 billion on Yammer back nearly four years ago, but businesses haven’t flocked to the tool as much as Microsoft had hoped. The software giant now plans to hold a conference call at 11:45 AM ET to discuss its LinkedIn acquisition, and we’ll update you accordingly with any additional details.

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