Friday, 17 June 2016

Hot Gossip: Microsoft Buy Linkedin for $26.2 bn

There’s been another tech buyout. Microsoft has announced the purchase of Linkedin for a cool $26.2 bn. Even for the titans of software, that’s more than pocket change.

Indeed, it’s the tech company’s largest acquisition ever, so it’s safe to say that plans for future growth are floating on a cloud of optimism. But will this partnership have the whereabouts to satisfy professionals of the business world?

Let’s face it, neither Linkedin nor Microsoft have the best track record for performance or a reputation that fills end-users with confidence.

Microsoft products are often described as “useless” and their customer service is a shambles. Linkedin is not without its user critics either and attacks by cybercriminals have dented the credentials of social media platforms.

However, let’s give innovation a chance here and float on that same silver-lined cloud the companies CEO’s are sky-surfing on. Maybe between them, Microsoft and Linkedin can cover themselves in glory.

Increase Productivity

In an email to staff, Microsoft CEO noted how similar the culture of Linkedin is with the software company. Both firms have ambitions to reinvent productivity and business processes and “seek to empower every person and organisation on the planet.”

The intention behind this common pursuit is to help “people find jobs, build skills, sell, market and get work done.” So they are covering all the bases. And the tools are there, or almost there, to make it work.

Usability is an issue for Linkedin users. It can sometimes feel like a service you are obligated to do rather than a tool you want to use. It’s not all that effective for networking either.

In the last few years, Linkedin has moved to address user issues. The capacity to share content, leave comments, add images and publish posts has bought the platform in line with other leading networks such as Facebook. It’s helps with brand visibility at least.

Last year, the professional network purchased with a view to providing effective tools that aid training and learning. That’s all very well and good for job seekers, but what about professionals hoping to win contracts or partner with other firms?

Linkedin Profinder

Launched earlier this year, Profinder is an old idea wrapped in new packaging. The service gives companies a platform to promote their projects and find freelancers with skills to pull it off.

The service essentially mimics freelance for hire sites like People per Hour and Fiverr. For the time being, Profinder is free to use for both companies and freelancers, and creates another potential revenue stream for skilled professionals.

The benefit for businesses is you can find trustworthy and reliable professionals to complete your projects. There is an argument that professionals on Linkedin have more credibility.

However, the problem for freelancers is, winning work becomes a bidding war against other service providers. Rarely will you earn what you are worth and may have to pay transaction fees on top.

It will be a tidy income screen for the merger. Microsoft will help program the interface to make it user-friendly.

But where else does Microsoft fit into the bigger picture? Other than rescuing Linkedin from financial disaster after shelling out £1.5 bn for Lynda, it’s not easy to see how the software company can improve the business model. A few tweaks to the interface does not justify the £26.2 bn spend.

It will be interesting to see how this adventure pans out. After all Microsoft hardly have the best track record when it comes to collaboration. Last month, the tech company broke ties with Nokia and wrote off a $7.2 bn investment that lasted just two years.

And the companies previous venture into social media was disastrous. Have you heard of the chat service Yammer? No, not many other people have either because nobody uses it. Probably because Microsoft tried to tie Office 365 with it! Something Linkedin professionals might have to cope with.

The partnership between Microsoft and Linkedin could prove to be pretty exciting, but given Microsoft’s track record, the network is likely to get worse before it gets better. Watch this space!

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