Microsoft has acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, marking one of the biggest tech mergers in recent memory and giving the software giant a firm foothold in the online professional world.
The move is easily the largest by Microsoft (it bought Nokia for $7.6 billion in 2013 and Skype for $8.5 billion in 2011), and marks its largest entry into the social media realm (it bought Yammer for $1.2 billion in 2012).
LinkedIn was founded in 2002 and grew into the largest professional social network, with 105 million active monthly users and more than 433 million accounts.
Microsoft announced the deal in a blog post on Monday morning.
In an email to staff, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella touted the pairing as a way to improve both companies by integrating LinkedIn’s content and network with Microsoft’s cloud computing and productivity tools.
“This combination will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task youre trying to complete. As these experiences get more intelligent and delightful, the LinkedIn and Office 365 engagement will grow,”Nadella wrote.
“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the worlds professionals,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in the blog post. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.”
Microsoft and LinkedIn released a video promoting the move.
LinkedIn had been struggling as a standalone company. It shares declined a whopping 43% in one day in February after it issued disappointing projections for the year.
The deal values LinkedIn at $196 per share, meaning Microsoft is paying a 50% premium on the company’s Friday share price of about $131.
Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s CEO, said that the combination will help Microsoft on its mission to become the premier business-to-business and workplace company.
Just as we have changed the way the world connects to opportunity, this relationship with Microsoft, and the combination of their cloud and LinkedIns network, now gives us a chance to also change the way the world works, Weiner said.
Weiner will remain atop the company, according to the press release.
While LinkedIn shares predictably skyrocketed following the news, the market was less excited for Microsoft. It’s shares were down 3.6% in premarket trading on Monday morning.
Investors weren’t the only ones with a skeptical take. Moody’s rating agency, which grades corporate debt, put Microsoft’s pristine Aaa rating on review for downgrade due to the acquisition.
The agency cited the fact that Microsoft bought LinkedIn entirely with cash (as opposed to using some shares in Microsoft), forcing the company to accrue a larger amount of debt compared to before the move.