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Find this Podcast “A Partner’s Perspective on the Microsoft Acquisition of LinkedIn” on the ThreeWill Soundcloud, Stitcher, and iTunes.


Danny:Hello and welcome the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan. I have Tommy Ryan along with me. Hello, Tommy.


Tommy:Good morning. How are you doing?


Danny:I’m doing great. How about you?


Tommy:It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Blue skies.


Danny:It is a beautiful day.


Tommy:Not too hot, but a good day.


Danny:Got the 4th of July coming up.


Tommy:That’s right. Downtown Marietta fireworks.


Danny:Excellent. You’re going to be there as well?


Tommy:Yep. (affirmative)


Danny:Awesome. Let me see the socks. I’ve got to turn around here to see your socks.


Tommy:There we go. A little yellow on top.


Danny:Those look like the Georgia Tech socks. A little rambling red socks. I like it.


Tommy:Looks like you’ve got Georgia Bulldog socks on.


Danny:These are my one crazy-colored socks, which, unfortunately, they are red. For today’s topic, we’d like to talk about the LinkedIn acquisition. Did you see this coming?


Tommy:Did not. Didn’t even think that that was an area that they’d be interested in, but it made me start thinking about it.


Danny:Yeah. I wanted to take a little bit of time and talk about this. I know there’s been a lot on the news about the acquisition and from the financial folks, what their thoughts are on the acquisition of LinkedIn. What I’d like to do in this episode is maybe talk about this from the partnership perspective and what do we see? What does this mean to us as a partner? What do we think are the opportunities, maybe, from Microsoft for this acquisition. It sounds like Microsoft wasn’t the only bidder for this.


Tommy:From what I heard, Salesforce was another one of those bidders. I did hear about that before the Microsoft bid.


Danny:Our take was, and we wrote actually a couple of blog posts on this, we thought Microsoft was going after Salesforce.


Tommy:Which, I think, that is true, having that public now.


Danny:It is public knowledge. I thought when something big was going to come out, I thought that was going to be them buying Salesforce. I guess, Salesforce, when you really look at it, they’ve purchased … I think the company was Jigsaw a while back. This whole sort of B-to-B contact data information area. I know Salesforce, that’s vital to them. Their product nowadays is called It’s an area of importance, especially with regards to CRM.


It’s interesting to see now, we have a lot of experience on the Salesforce side, from building. What was was it? Maybe 3, 4, or 5 years ago, doing the integration between Chatter and SharePoint. Really understanding what Salesforce’s product does and staying in touch with what Microsoft CRM does through the years. I think this will be an interesting addition to Microsoft CRM. How they’re going to integrate it, I have no … I think I’m still trying to figure that out.


Tommy:Yeah. I don’t know if the strategy will be keeping it as is and not really having a lot of integration across their platform. Does it become an ad revenue? Economic engine for Microsoft? When do you start seeing the Microsoft 365? Products having a closer relationship, a little bit more, seamless process of using content within conversations that are happening within LinkedIn. I don’t know.


Another thing I think of is, “Does it become a data repository that you can use in applications that there’s a set of web services to be able to power our sales and marketing apps that are custom apps?” I don’t know. It’s going to be interesting to see where they want to take it.


Danny:To see how stand-alone it’s going to be, as opposed to how integrated into Microsoft Products’ Suite. It looks like, from a lot of what we’ve been seeing from Microsoft over the last … Since Satya took over, was, make the services available on any platform and play with everybody well. I think if they take that approach with LinkedIn, it should be a good, interesting approach. We’ll see.


I think their acquisitions can be done well and not so well. It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out through the years. Just sort of a little background. I think if you looked at what was happening with LinkedIn, I think they had some rough numbers come out. Their stock take a hit. I think Microsoft buying them, it looked like they were buying them at an exaggerated amount, but it was really something that before they had a hit, close to what the purchase price was for it, it seemed like a lot of money. $29,000,000,000.


Tommy:Yes. Hard to wrap your head around that.


Danny:I can’t. It’s difficult to wrap your head around it. Obviously, there’s going to be a way for them to see some value out of this. What I wanted to do next was maybe talk a little bit about the different aspects of LinkedIn and what could that mean for Microsoft? What opportunities could that present to them? If I look at LinkedIn, the obvious thing for most folks is to keep their bios, basically, or their online resumes, or their Cvs, or whatever they’re using to communicate what their work experience is, and past jobs that they’ve had.


That information, I think it’s very important when it comes to the business-to-business area and being able to know. If I wanted to find out where somebody is, LinkedIn’s the place that I go to find that out. You the same way?


Tommy:Yeah. I think, if you think about LinkedIn being that place to go to find out where someone is working, it is where the eyeballs are for the business community, the enterprise, and that’s where Microsoft’s targeted. It is the enterprise. You can see LinkedIn as a way to bring people into the Microsoft platform and make them more aware of where you can go with Microsoft as that driving force to support their business.


I don’t know if that’s through integration with Microsoft products or more of just raising the awareness of advertising internally to that customer base that’s on LinkedIn. Even using LinkedIn as an advertising platform. It’s similar to what they were trying to do with Bing is to compete with Google and use searches as the way to drive ad revenue. Maybe LinkedIn is a great place for them to do that.


I know we were talking earlier and you said, “I’ve got to spend money on LinkedIn and set up certain campaigns and then it doesn’t hit my budget.” It’s like, “Gosh, if it didn’t hit your budget, there was money on the table that was left.” Can Microsoft, did they see that potential? Was that even in their view of why buy LinkedIn?


Danny:Yeah. I think the advertising aspect of it … LinkedIn allows you to … There’s different types of accounts that you have. I had a Sales Navigator Account, which gave you some additional functionality that you could have on the site. You could do, what you’re mentioning with advertising, is there’s a key difference with what I’m able to do Ad Words versus what I’m able to do on LinkedIn and also to, maybe a little bit of a lesser extent, on Facebook, which is I can target a specific company.


From a marketing standpoint, targeting, you end up creating your customer persona and looking at roles within an organization. One of the unique propositions that LinkedIn has, is being able to target a specific role, which is very important as it comes to B-to-B marketing. I think having that data and Microsoft being able to understand who plays what role inside which organization. Not only can they leverage that internally, which they’re a sales organization, and to have that user-generated content that’s all kept up-to-date by the users of the system.


Then, being able to take that and monetize it, and have advertisers being able to take advantage of that updated information. I bring out the title, because it really is the B-to-B aspect. We do regional marketing, so we’re trying to fart …


Tommy:Excuse me?


Danny:That’s awesome. I’m going to see how that translates out. We’ll see what that ends … We end up doing fargon regional marketing. That’s my new label for what I do. I’m trying to target a certain area with certain companies in that area. Also, we target larger companies as well. A lot of this information is, you have information in LinkedIn about, like, for us, it’s about ThreeWill and how big is ThreeWill. How many people are in the company? Those sorts of things.


Microsoft can really take advantage of having all of that information and advertising is a key way for them to do it. Back to the bio stuff, I don’t know … That seems to be … LinkedIn seems to be the one place. Is there a competitor with regards to keeping where you put your bio out? We have our own self-hosted, if everybody has their bio on, but I can’t think of another service where people are actively using to keep their bios up-to-date these days. Anything?


Tommy:No. I think it’s hard enough to even keep it up in LinkedIn. There’s no other social business platform that I think I’d trust enough to put my bio out there.


Danny:The area that I do think there’s some competition is the whole idea of … I’m thinking of the communities aspect of LinkedIn. Where like-minded or people who share the interest in the same topic, like for us, there’s probably a couple of dozen communities out there with regards to SharePoint, or Scrum, or whatever topic you happen to have an interest in. LinkedIn allows for the self-organizing communities to come out there and share information together.


I see there’s some alternatives to out there. The first one that comes up. LinkedIn has some groups. Google Plus has communities as well. I think there’s some competitors in there that have some overlap. It seems to be a place where folks who share common interests get together and are able to share information. Even along with that, more recently, we’ve seen LinkedIn being used as almost like a blogging platform.


Tommy:That’s true. I wasn’t thinking about that. The areas that I use the most is the messaging. There’s times that I try to get ahold of someone. I do have the email address of that person. I know that person fairly well. Not coming out of the blue. I send several emails, no response. Then, you send something in LinkedIn, and, for some reason, that becomes on the top of their queue. I don’t know if that lasts for long, but it seems to be an effective way for messaging.


Then, blogging, I think, if you want to get in front of folks and show some thought leadership around the topic, that LinkedIn seems to be that place. I’ve experimented with Medium, another blogging platform, but LinkedIn, as it relates to business, I think, is probably one of your better places to fish where the fish are for putting blog content out there.


Danny:I’ve cross-posted some of the ones that I thought would be good. Put them both on our blog and also on LinkedIn to see what analytics and interactions I’ll get on LinkedIn. I think there were some additional things, I felt like got more exposure on LinkedIn, and hopefully, even drove some traffic to our site because that was cross-posted up there.


That’s another area that I think Microsoft … It will be interesting to see how they can leverage that as well. The LinkedIn acquired I’m very familiar with I’m always trying to learn new things. They acquired them, I guess, a year, two ago. I’m not exactly sure on the timeline. This is interesting because I don’t know if you’re familiar with the whole process, but after you take a class, you actually get acknowledged for completing the class.


I think this is Microsoft getting a little bit into the business of understanding people’s knowledge and being able to pick up. There’s such great material on there. has really different subject matter experts. You can learn how to do a lot of the marketing-related courses. I’m sorry, I’m monopolizing this conversation.


You’re probably enjoying it. Go ahead, Danny, go on. A lot of the marketing-related content, you can learn from the expert in the community, directly from them, which is great to have it. It’s in a format that’s easily digestible. It almost gets Microsoft a little bit into the … It’s not training.




Danny:It’s education.


Tommy:Almost learning management, I think. A lot of times, we get people with SharePoint saying, “I want to create a learning management system.” Instead of creating that learning management system, tying into something like to, at least, on more generic topics that are not proprietary to your company. That’s a great way to motivate and get people to feel like they’re growing and tying into a way to grow people from an educational standpoint.


They have a video portal within Microsoft 365, but that’s an empty shell of that’s where I can put video content. I don’t know how would come into play to say, “I want a module for learning management portal.” That becomes something that’s available as a cloud app that’s in addition to what you see in Microsoft 365.


Danny:Awesome. The last little bit of this, I know I’m eating up, going over my time here. You have a couple of more minutes?




Danny:Thank you, Tom. A couple of more minutes to listen to me.


Tommy:Go for it.


Danny:The last little bit I wanted to talk about, and we’ve gotten a little bit into this, but the, “Why did they do this?” I think the obvious things that we’ve hit so far is, it is the business social network. I think it’s the de facto place that people keep their information up-to-date with regards to … You see a lot of people sharing. When they start sharing more of the social stuff that’s not appropriate for LinkedIn, people get upset about that.


It is the place for business communication, which I think, is the right place for Microsoft to be. That’s a great focus for them. When I look at why, what I’m hoping comes out of this, is that LinkedIn did have some bad numbers. I’m hoping that this gives them some stability as far as them focusing in on the core functionality of what LinkedIn does. They don’t have to …


Everybody has to worry about the next quarter, but they’re able to maybe take a little bit of a further look into where they’re going with this, because they have $29,000,000,000, in cash. That, hopefully, will give them a “We’re going to make it through next year. We’re going to be able to take a little bit of a longer term approach to what we’re doing.” That’s my hope out of this, is that they’re not going to have to focus so much on the short term.


Tommy:I look at the two most recent ones, recent acquisitions, of Yammer and Wunderlist. I think there’s some hope for something like LinkedIn. Wunderlist, I think it continues to move down its path that is purpose built for what it needs to do and not getting stagnated and convulated within, forcing it into something that it’s not.


I see Yammer. My concern with Yammer, I haven’t seen that much innovation. It’s been more integration. The integration is okay. It’s good from a single sought-on perceptive, but bringing Yammer into your activities, I think that can get better. You wonder, is it going to kill innovation or is it going to allow innovation to foster because of unlimited … Not unlimited funds, but a healthy amount of funds to be bold to go after new ideas. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes.


Danny:My take with what happened with Yammer is more of, I think, they took Yammer’s approach to developing software and applied it to all of Microsoft 365. They took the rapid release, the AB testing, and instead of really focusing in on the Yammer product, they said, “How can we take what Yammer does and apply it to the whole Microsoft 365 suite?” We got the innovation overall.


There’s a lot of things that you and I are very happy with … Weekly, you go through and talk about what’s coming down the pike with Microsoft 365 with the internal team on us on Tuesday mornings. You look at the roadmap. Having that roadmap and being able to see the quick cycles and to be able to know where we’re going with this, I think that’s been a great impact on Microsoft overall.


Tommy:I agree. The net overall impact is very positive. I think, when you look at Yammer in terms of its capabilities, just the feature set, I don’t see it. It hasn’t changed much since a few years back. You worry about, “Can that start growing?” Then, we start looking at other social networks like Slack, because a social network, I think you have to be teasing it up. You have to be putting things into the product that draw you back in, and continue to draw you back in.


Danny:You think there’s any risk on a new LinkedIn coming in and trying to take advantage of folks who are not happy about Microsoft owning LinkedIn?


Tommy:I haven’t thought about that, but it’s an interesting thought that does create maybe an opportunity. Now that LinkedIn is not independent, it’s Microsoft. It’s going to take a while for Microsoft to bring it into the fold. Innovation cycles might be stagnated for a while as they figure that out. Then, that makes it vulnerable for someone else to come in and be aggressive in that market.


Danny:My emails going crazy here. I just got an email from Satya. He said, “There’s no problem. We’re going to crush the competition.” Somehow, they have tapped into our conversation right now, Tommy. With that, I think I’m going to end this.




Danny:It’s all over with, done.


Tommy:You go ahead and get back to Satya.


Danny:I’ll get back to him back quickly. Please drop by Check out our blog. Listen to other podcasts. If you can, subscribe to us on iTunes. We’re also on Stitchers and SoundCloud. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen. Thank you, Tommy, for taking time out of your busy day. I know you’re covering Bruce this week, as well. Thank you for doing this.


Tommy:Sure. No problem, Danny.


Danny:Everybody have a great day. Thank you so much.


Tommy:Bye, bye.


Danny:Bye, bye.



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