HR Administration

Microsoft’s LinkedIn Deal Hits the Nail on the Head

By Rick Bell

Jun. 13, 2016

Love it; the naysayers are already condemning Microsoft’s planned acquisition of LinkedIn.

“5 Reasons Microsoft’s $26B LinkedIn Deal Will Be a Catastrophic Failure” trumpets a headline from VentureBeat. Well, anytime you plunk down $26 billion, there’s going to be some risk involved.

But I’m guessing that way back in the earliest days of man, someone thought buying a hammer was a bad deal, too. “You realize that when you swing that thing you have to be accurate. Who can be accurate when you’re watching the nail and swinging this newfangled hammer?”

Yes, many a thumb has been bruised since its introduction way back when. There will likely be a few bloodied digits as Microsoft and LinkedIn figure each other out. But look at most any tool belt and you’ll still see a hammer hanging from it.

Fact is, some people just don’t like progress. And if there were ever a social media site acquisition with an upside, LinkedIn is the one.

I don’t know how you like to use LinkedIn, but in my book it offers more value to HR leaders as well as the organizations — like us — that cover it than any other social media tool.

As you probably know, Microsoft and LinkedIn announced on June 13 the social network where we put our best professional foot forward will be acquired by Microsoft in a $26.2 billion deal. That’s a big chunk of change, all right.

I think it’s a steal. Consider that most every professional contact I come across, not only domestically but internationally, has a LinkedIn profile. And I’m frankly surprised this didn’t happen sooner.

I won’t argue that Facebook is the social media go-to site. But from my little corner of the HR world, despite those who contend that Mark Zuckerberg’s creation is a valuable business tool, Facebook isn’t where I’m conducting my business. That is, unless I want to check out who was at my cousin’s wedding over the weekend.

If I want a quick glimpse of a potential source, assess a speaker for an upcoming conference or I’ve received a pitch to cover a new CHRO at Company XYZ, I’m not scoping them out on Facebook. Twitter ain’t my go-to, and honestly, I don’t care that this person just shared a molasses-infused banana bread recipe on Pinterest.

I’m checking them out on LinkedIn.

Where’s the first place I post a job opening? Love ya, Monster/CareerBuilder/ZipRecruiter, but I’m dropping the posting into LinkedIn’s job feed. I happen to like the responses I get, too. Yep, I get applications from Belgium to Bangalore. But the bulk of candidates are local, and many hopefuls are at least in the ballpark.

The weekly “job picks for you” I receive aren’t always spot on — managing director, dispute advisory at BDO USA? — umm, no. Chalk it up to some wacky algorithm and move on.

LinkedIn’s professional discussions also are really valuable not only to the participants but to us as well. We can glean the trending topics generating the most conversation and shape our coverage to that. We’ll also pose questions corresponding with our coverage and publish readers’ reactions to the topic.

Like community banks and craft breweries, social media sites are prime acquisition targets. While bigger isn’t always better, outside of Google’s acquisition of YouTube, no deal has more potential upside for business professionals than Microsoft landing LinkedIn.

And if I want one social media business site on my tool belt, hang LinkedIn next to my hammer.

Rick Bell is Workforce’s editorial director. For comments or questions email

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