The surprise announcement of Microsoft purchasing LinkedIn is being praised by a lot of pundits as an excellent strategic choice for Microsoft's effort to further its goal of being the best choice for company infrastructure.
And with good reason. LinkedIn provides a much better social graph than the more Facebook-like Yammer, purchased for so many billions of dollars ago. Why does Microsoft think this is such a great purchase? Here are some points from The Verge, quoting some of Satya Nadella's internal emails:
LinkedIn, with it's professional appeal as a place to build your profile, helps you network, and helps you find jobs (and be found for jobs) was its greatest strength. Microsoft now wants to take that strength and place it inside Microsoft products and services.
LinkedIn was the professional's playground. Build a profile that made sense. Expand on your resume. Keep in contact with former coworkers. Network into potential companies by talking with the people who work there through your contacts. Enable recruiters to find you when looking for jobs. Join groups of like-minded individuals to build your business network.
Will all of that still be there? Most likely.
Some tout that this is the beginning of Microsoft enabling the consumer side of the business instead of the corporation. After all, LinkedIn is much more about the person instead of the company.
Carried to its logical conclusion, Microsoft would want to own the professional experience across jobs, companies, and corporations -- while bypassing the corporations they currently selling to. Think about your profile carrying across different companies as you change jobs because the central profile is the LinkedIn profile in a Microsoft shop.
I'm not sure companies would be into that -- talent is hard to keep as it is and companies like the control. Would they be willing to cede identity management to Microsoft? Do we want our profile being the ubiquitous identity we carry in our professional lives from company to company?
For sure, we will have to watch what happens. But I'm ready to pull my LinkedIn profile the minute I sniff Microsoft integrating LinkedIn to anything that looks like identity management in a company. My identity is mine and I'll use it where I please.
Oh, and how are we to network to find new jobs without LinkedIn? There are a few options, but searching for a job has just gotten more difficult.