I've been saying for some time now that LinkedIn is serious about becoming a one-stop shop for professionals worldwide.
Now they have a $26 billion check to prove it.
The news that Microsoft has acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion only re-affirms what I've been evangelizing in this space for some time - that LinkedIn has quietly reinvented itself as the top networking, learning and sales destination for professionals online.
What to Expect
The biggest news nugget to pull out of the announcement is that LinkedIn and Microsoft are going to actively - and aggressively - integrate into each other's platforms as much as possible.
Given that Microsoft has a billion users, and that LinkedIn has 433 million members in 200 countries (and is adding around 2 new members every second), that's a lot of professionals we're talking about.
Some of the most immediate integration opportunities mentioned by LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner include meshing LinkedIn with Microsoft Outlook, Calendar, Active Directory, Office, Windows, Skype, Dynamics, Cortana, Bing and more.
He also mentioned closely connecting Microsoft's Dynamics social selling software with LinkedIn's Sales Navigator, along with:
"...our objective to transform [e-learning] and development ... by deeply integrating the Lynda.com/LinkedIn
Long story short, there are a lot of Microsoft products that can be enhanced and improved by integrating LinkedIn's treasure-trove of both individual user and company data directly into them, along with the reverse being true with LinkedIn's growing platform of apps and software tools.
The Longer View
As someone who makes his living teaching others how to utilize LinkedIn for sales and marketing, I love this deal for many reasons.
Chief among them is the fact that LinkedIn now has what amounts to an open wallet to flesh out its ambitious plans and expand its empire as the world's biggest "professional" social media network.
As Weiner noted:
"Imagine a world where we're no longer looking up at Tech Titans such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, and wondering what it would be like to operate at their extraordinary scale -- because we're one of them."
Also, it's key to remember that LinkedIn's intense desire to outgrow its reputation as just a "jobs" or "career" website.
From integrating e-learning directly into the platform, to opening up its own freelance marketplace, thus making it easier than ever to sell products and services to other professionals directly on the site, LinkedIn is realizing a vision of handling almost every element imaginable in the professional workplace.
Getting the backing of a corporate giant like Microsoft while retaining its name and independence makes it a very, very exciting time to be LinkedIn.
So, if you haven't recently polished up your LinkedIn profile and been active on the network, now would be a good time to start - because things are only going to get bigger and better in the days to come.