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EY CEO Mark Weinberger interviews LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, right, at the EY Strategic Growth Forum (GeekWire Photos / John Cook)
EY CEO Mark Weinberger interviews LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, right, at the EY Strategic Growth Forum (GeekWire Photo / John Cook)

PALM DESERT, Calif.— Microsoft has a mixed track record when it comes to large acquisitions, with big-time misses on deals such as Nokia and aQuantive.

But it’s a new era under Satya Nadella, who earlier this year embarked on the software giant’s biggest acquisition to date when it announced intentions to buy LinkedIn for a whopping $26 billion.

Before the deal could progress, Nadella had to convince LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner that Microsoft would not screw things up. And to do that, Nadella told Weiner that the companies had to be absolutely aligned on two key things: a sense of purpose and structure.

Speaking at the EY Strategic Growth Forum Thursday, Weiner said that he’s emboldened by the possibilities of the two companies coming together.

And Weiner add that he was even a bit surprised by the “very similar sense of purpose” for Microsoft and LinkedIn. When you look at Microsoft’s mission of empowering every individual and organization to achieve more, that aligns almost perfectly with what LinkedIn is trying to accomplish, said Weiner.

“Microsoft has been coming at it, historically, through its development and offering of software, and now, increasingly the cloud. And we were coming at it through the development of a professional network, and increasingly this economic graph,” said Weiner. “In combination, that is a really unique position to be in, in terms of creating value and unlocking value for all of these members and customers.”

As it relates to structure, Weiner said that he was convinced that the tie-up would work as soon as he heard Nadella utter the words independence.

“He was talking about doing this in a very different way in terms of how Microsoft had done previous acquisitions,” said Weiner, who called the acquisition a “re-founding” moment for LinkedIn. “LinkedIn could continue to focus on growing LinkedIn. He has been true to his word from that very first meeting. Satya has been nothing but authentic and genuine. And everything he has told me in those discussions has been cascaded more broadly to both of our teams repeatedly.”


The remarks by Weiner echo what he told staffers shortly after the deal was announced, with the tech executive writing in a memo to staffers that little would change at LinkedIn given its ability to operate independently.

Weiner noted that the acquisition — which has yet to close — is progressing wonderfully. And he said that he continues to be impressed with Nadella’s passion and vision.

“It has been wonderful working together over the last several months,” said Weiner. “We have not closed yet. But we have rolled up our sleeves and we are starting to think through what is possible, and are very excited about the future.”


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