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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. (Microsoft Photo)

LinkedIn has surpassed 500 million members globally, one of the first big milestones for the business social network since its acquisition by Microsoft for more than $26 billion last year. The news comes as Microsoft starts to incorporate LinkedIn data to create new features for its Dynamics 365 sales and recruiting technology.

LinkedIn announced its new member number this morning. By comparison, LinkedIn reported more than 400 million members in February 2016, a little more than a year ago, in its final annual report as a standalone company.

At the same time, Microsoft announced this morning that it’s integrating LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool with its Dynamics 365 technology in an effort to help salespeople leverage LinkedIn data to make better decisions. For example, the technology will recommend next steps in landing prospective clients, deliver customized updates on contacts, and give Dynamics 365 users access to LinkedIn’s communications and profile tools.

As part of the announcement, Microsoft introduced a combined monthly subscription for LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365.

Customer relationship management market leader Salesforce, which also bid for LinkedIn, has been rolling out artificial intelligence features under the “Einstein” name in its namesake CRM tool and other Salesforce services. Salesforce also struck an AI partnership with IBM to make further inroads in these areas.

In addition today, Microsoft said it will launch a new app in July called Dynamics 365 for Talent, integrating aspects of LinkedIn Recruiter, as outlined in this post by Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise chief.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told Reuters that the company will continue to offer certain LinkedIn data to outside companies, including Salesforce. This could help to address competitive concerns raised about Microsoft’s control of the data.

The acquisition of LinkedIn was the largest in Microsoft’s history. While San Francisco-based LinkedIn is largely operating autonomously as part of Microsoft, the significance of the deal ratchets up the pressure on Microsoft to capitalize on LinkedIn’s strengths — giving customers new data and insights from the social network in combination with Microsoft’s productivity tools.

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