Students reading Microsoft and LinkedIn news

When one of the most recognized, most influential, most important companies in the world announces that it’s making the biggest acquisition in its entire history, that’s news for everyone. After all, just about anyone with a computer who has, has had, has looked for, or is looking for a job, has interacted with these companies at one time or another. Most of us probably use products and services from Microsoft and LinkedIn on a near-daily basis. But now that Microsoft is acquiring LinkedIn, what does this mean for students and job seekers?

Why Did Microsoft Pay $26.2 Billion For LinkedIn?

The news is so new, that we all likely have more questions than we do answers. The first and most obvious question of course is: Why?

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, delivered quite a clear answer:

“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals. Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.”

An article from Microsoft cited some very impressive statistics about LinkedIn to support the announcement:

  • 19 percent growth year over year (YOY) to more than 433 million members worldwide
  • 9 percent growth YOY to more than 105 million unique visiting members per month
  • 49 percent growth YOY to 60 percent mobile usage
  • 34 percent growth YOY to more than 45 billion quarterly member page views
  • 101 percent growth YOY to more than 7 million active job listings

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn (who will remain in the role), was equally effusive about the merger:

“Just as we have changed the way the world connects to opportunity, this relationship with Microsoft, and the combination of their cloud and LinkedIn’s network, now gives us a chance to also change the way the world works. For the last 13 years, we’ve been uniquely positioned to connect professionals to make them more productive and successful, and I’m looking forward to leading our team through the next chapter of our story.”

Microsoft and LinkedIn: Cui Bono?

A story in today’s Wall Street Journal highlights the ways in which each company stands to benefit from this new relationship, and Mr. Nadella, quoted in the article, offers a clear and succinct summary of what the combination represents:

“It’s really the coming together of the professional cloud and the professional network.”

At this early juncture, it’s hard to say how this pans out as as business decision, but an article today in the Financial Times pointed out an interesting fact:

“The news sent LinkedIn’s shares up 47 per cent, while Microsoft shares fell 2 per cent after the announcement.”

Evidence that LinkedIn stands to benefit more? Again, at this point, hard to say. Though this headline from Forbes today would seem to suggest a similar perspective, albeit in somewhat more cynical form: 4 Reasons Microsoft Wasted $26.2 Billion To Buy LinkedIn.

Not all voices are taking this side. An article in Vox by entitled Why spending $26 billion for LinkedIn is a smart move for the new Microsoft lays out three very compelling arguments for why this decision makes a lot of sense for Microsoft:

  • LinkedIn has a thriving business
  • Microsoft is reinventing itself as a business services company
  • LinkedIn complements Microsoft’s shifting business model

What Does This Mean For Udacity And Our Students?

At this point, you’re probably wondering how we at Udacity feel about this! As a company expressly dedicated to supporting students who seek to empower themselves through learning—and who are pursuing career advancement through education—we’re of course deeply intrigued by the potential this new partnership could represent for our students.

To get some perspective, I asked Ana Diaz-Hernandez (Udacity’s Business Development Manager, Careers) for her thoughts, and here’s what she had to say:

“Working with students on building and optimizing their LinkedIn profiles—in the service of helping them establish their personal brands and enhance their visibility and hireability—has long been a part of our career support process, and with good reason. A well-thought-out and maximally optimized LinkedIn profile is a critical asset for anyone seeking new career opportunities. Today’s news is accordingly very exciting, and we look very forward to learning, implementing, and sharing any and all new value that this acquisition produces for our students.”

Ana pretty much hit the nail right on the head. To whatever extent this acquisition produces value for our students, you can bet we’re going to make sure you benefit!