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Microsoft buys LinkedIn for $26 billion, enters the social network business

Channel Strategy

Microsoft has announced it is buying social media company LinkedIn for more than US$26 billion, making it one of the most expensive tech acquisitions of all time.

At the price, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant is paying $196 per share for the company, a 49 per cent premium, compared to its Friday closing price, the CBC reports.

However, this pales in comparison to LinkedIn’s valuation of $270 per share back in early 2015.

The social network, which allows professionals and students alike to post resumes and connect with each other, has been struggling in recent months.

Ad revenue, which reports indicate accounted for less than 20 per cent of revenue, has been slowing, as has been growth in its user base, which currently amounts to roughly 430 million. Just last month, the website also saw millions of accounts hacked and credentials put up for sale.

Nevertheless, the sale means that Microsoft is officially in the social media business. The now-subsidiary will operate as an independent unit and LinkedIn chief executive Jeff Weiner will stay on board. It also means Microsoft will have more than 400 million new customers to sell products and services to.

If approved, the sale would become the third largest tech acquisition of all time, and Microsoft’s largest acquisition under CEO Satya Nadella. It is exceeded by Dell-EMC ($67 bn) and HP-Compaq ($33.6 bn).

“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centred on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella said in a statement. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft.”