LinkedIn, the Microsoft acquisition I thought would be disaster but has turned out very well

When Microsoft bought LinkedIn 2016 I was just so upset. How could LinkedIn allow this to happen? I just thought it was a going to be a disaster and could not see any good coming out of it. None whatsoever, such was my pessimism at the time. I saw the Apocalypse coming early for LinkedIn. It was the beginning of the end for the platform in my books. What did these two companies have in common and how were they going to work together? What were the areas of synergy and how were the end users going to benefit at the end of the day? I had so many questions at the time and could not help thinking that Reid Hoffman had sold out to the faithful.

Why did I feel that Reid had sold out? In 2013 Microsoft had bought Nokia and that turned out to be an absolute and unmitigated disaster. That acquisition was still fresh on my mind and unfortunately was now clouding my judgement about the present. I was worried about the same fate for LinkedIn. But my fears were totally misplaced. Nokia and LinkedIn are totally different companies. Microsoft bought Nokia at a time when Nokia was already on the brink, when the company was way past its better days, overtaken by trends and developments and the hyper competitive market of cellphones. On the other hand LinkedIn was brimming with potential as evidenced by its regular updates in the market. LinkedIn was a growing company while Nokia was bought when in significant decline.

At $26 billion LinkedIn was the largest acquisition that Microsoft had made to date. I was so worried that LinkedIn was going to lose its distinct flair and branding. Over the years I have been pleasantly surprised. LinkedIn has not turned out to be the disaster I thought it would be. In fact LinkedIn seems to be doing rather well.

Do you know at what point I started to believe that Microsoft buying LinkedIn could actually be a very good thing. It was when I read a little bit about Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. It was just refreshing reading about his management style and approach to doing things. Here was an open minded guy who was introducing radical reforms at a company like Microsoft. You need to know what you are doing to be making such huge changes at a company like Microsoft. I liked Satya and I was already a fan. He seemed like someone who knew what he was doing. Over the years I have seen Microsoft change the way it works with other rival platforms like Linux. Such things would never have happened in the past. Let’s get back to talking about LinkedIn.

For a while I thought that LinkedIn was moving very slowly in bringing new innovations to the website. Why couldn’t LinkedIn bring out features at the same time as platforms like Facebook and Twitter. However, in time I have started to believe that slow and steady is not a bad thing at all.

There is actually an advantage to LinkedIn taking its time to introducing some new features to the website. By the time some of these features are introduced to LinkedIn they have already been tested elsewhere and LinkedIn will probably have a great deal of insight of how these features will perform. Those features, by the time they come to LinkedIn will be tried and trusted. This means that LinkedIn users can be confident that when they see new features on the website a good deal of work and research has gone into how things will pan out.

Examples of such a feature are knowing when someone is online. I remember that when the feature was touted at some stage there was some unease among users on LinkedIn. Some people feared that if your contacts were going to know when you were online, it might lead to a deterioration in the quality of communication. This has not been the case for me at all and the great thing is you can opt out so that people do not know when you are online.

Live video on LinkedIn was also a feature that came quite late compared to the other platforms. However, this feature has been well received as expected and I have seen some individuals and brands really using LinkedIn Live so massive effect in growing their visibility and reach on the platform.

What I like about LinkedIn is that the interface is clean and not cluttered. This has been the case from the early days. I am sure that there was a temptation to introduce many things but LinkedIn has stayed focussed on adding value to members and not been swayed by risky developments. The sight might not be the sexiest in the world but for me it gets the job done. It is effective and effecient for what I need to do in my career and business.

I used to fear that Facebook was going to eat LinkedIn’s lunch and take over in the professional world. Facebook and LinkedIn have different focus areas and target markets. Facebook is informal, easy going and for people who want to connect in a relaxed environment. LinkedIn remains focussed on professionals and adding value to businesses and it is more of the same. It continues to be the go-to place for growing and developing your professional brand and I don’t see anyone else taking that mantle away from them anytime soon.

LinkedIn groups have been making a comeback after some years of decline. In the past LinkedIn groups were really a big thing on the platform. Something happened, I think LinkedIn groups were taking over the platform itself and maybe some kind of check had to be put in place. Whatever the real story is some people get worked up quite a bit about it because they invested a great deal of time and effort into building those groups in the past.

I am so glad that I was very wrong about Microsoft buying LinkedIn. I thought it would be a disaster but it has really turned out very well and I am not complaining at all. In fact I am trying to get more people to use LinkedIn. At the time of writing this post, LinkedIn has at least 660 million users. Not bad at all! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for LinkedIn.

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  1. […] busy today. The first article was Knowing what you want to do in life. The second article was LinkedIn, the Microsoft acquisition I thought would be disaster but has turned out very well . I have provided the evidence and I do hope that is to your satisfaction. Now I can even do three […]

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