Microsoft LinkedIn Microsoft

Earlier in the summer, Microsoft dropped over $26 billion to acquire LinkedIn. That kind of monster deal does not happen without feathers getting ruffled. Rival bidder Salesforce has been tightening ties with Microsoft in recent years. However, the LinkedIn deal has caused tension, with Salesforce raising concern about the purchase last week.

Salesforce chief legal officer Burke Norton said buying LinkedIn gives Microsoft an unfair advantage. It gives the company access to a unique dataset of 450 million professionals in 200 countries. The ownership could mean Microsoft will deny competitors access to the data. However, Microsoft denies this will be the case.

Microsoft’s chief legal officer, Brad Smith, says the company has no such intentions.

It is not something that we have any intention of doing,” he said. “The LinkedIn data is public today and we want to make that data useful in lots of new ways.”

A number of key regions have already given regulatory permission for the LinkedIn deal to go through. The European Commission is still holding out. Smith says discussions with the EU are ongoing.

“The European Commission has naturally been reviewing with us the whole range of issues,” he said. “They ask lots of questions as they always do and as they always should. I think they have good questions. I think we have good and clear answers to their questions, so from my perspective this is an acquisition that is going to promote competition.”

Smith also added an interesting point. He says Salesforce was also trying to acquire LinkedIn. The company is the largest CRM provider, while Microsoft is fourth. So if the largest wanted to buy the company, surely it is ok for the fourth largest to do so.

Microsoft and Salesforce

The two market giants have often been fierce rivals through the years. However, more recently the companies have partnered and collaborated on a number of projects. Salesforce adopted Microsoft’s services for its own software. For example, the SalesForce1 Windows 10 app supports Continuum and the company also adopted Outlook for its email management.

However, when Microsoft acquired LinkedIn and Salesforce emerged as a rival bidder, cracks appeared. We took out our crystal ball and predicted that there would be fractures in the relationship due to LinkedIn.