Microsoft's $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn has been arguably the tech story of the year. It is certainly the biggest transaction of 2016 and sent shockwaves through the industry. We have discussed the strain it has put on Microsoft's and Salesforce's relationship. However, while the two companies entered a bidding war, Microsoft's interest in LinkedIn was longstanding.
Speaking to CNBC, LinkedIn Co-Founder and former VP of Marketing, Konstantin Guericke discussed Microsoft's interest. He says the company was interested in a LinkedIn acquisition since 2006.
“Microsoft since the early days had a standing offer to our VCs, saying look, if you want to sell the company talk to us, so it's not a surprise that Microsoft ended up doing the deal,” he explained.
The stumbling block a decade ago was LinkedIn's asking price. Guericke points out that the company always valued itself highly, but Microsoft did not see the worth at the time.
“They have always had a sort of line out. It was always difficult because we could see our business growing and so we always had a pretty high valuation in mind because we could see … how the company was going to evolve for the next few years, so there was always a high premium attached that didn't really make sense for an acquirer to do.”
Microsoft's LinkedIn Acquisition Different to Nokia Failure
Guericke admits that Microsoft “makes a lot of sense” as the buyer of LinkedIn. However, he also says he is “sad” that the company he co-founded has been sold. He adds that Microsoft needs to let the company remain independent. This is the only way for the transaction to end in success, Guericke believes.
The former executive believes the situation is different to Microsoft's failed purchase of Nokia.
“I think it's very different situation. Nokia was not exactly thriving at the time when this happened. LinkedIn was thriving and it's kind of a career make-or-break for the Microsoft CEO so I think it'll be handled differently, partly because of the lesson of Nokia.”