Microsoft-LinkedIn: Work Ain't 9-To-5, It's 24-7

| About: Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)


Microsoft's integration of LinkedIn is based on the new technology workstyle.

There are no longer silos, just one computing environment, accessed from the cloud 24-7.

Success, if it comes, will come from the bottom-up, with top-down resistance.

The reviews from Seeking Alpha authors are mostly on the $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).

They're mostly negative.

Expensive and for what asks the Traveling Investor. Bad move says Chris Lau. What is Microsoft thinking, demands Ian Bezek.

Here is what Microsoft is thinking.

We think of desktops and mobile as different things. We think of client, server and cloud as different things. In 2016 they are not. They are all one computing environment. Different services are applied on different devices --- you use voice more on mobile, Office more on a desktop - but it's all still one thing.

Microsoft sees LinkedIn as the glue that makes all this happen. All Microsoft services will be available from within it. And all LinkedIn connections will be available within Windows, Office, Skype and Cortana.

The difficulty I see is the LinkedIn business model, which until now has been all about finding another job. If LinkedIn is always there, as you're doing your present job, how is it supposed to do that?

Of course, the idea of job is more fluid in this decade than ever before. Full time work, freelancing, selling, buying, and collaborating are more fluid concepts, just as mobile, desktop and cloud are more fluid. It's all one work environment, unique to every individual, and by running all this in the Microsoft cloud, rather than inside a corporate network, this becomes clearer.

The point is I can see the advantages and synergies here, but I can also see the risks. Many corporate jobs, medical jobs, and even university jobs don't want you going outside their silos routinely. You can't contact your doctor, for instance, outside a HIPAA-compliant e-mail system that encrypts everything and maintains privacy. Corporations want to control employee interactions with the outside.

Microsoft tried to serve this need by selling them Yammer, bought for $1.2 billion in 2012, as an internal social network within Sharepoint. That did not work. Now it's opening things up. I think CEO Satya Nadella is right about how we work now, but I can see him getting enormous resistance from big customers, in both the public and private sector, arguing that LinkedIn is beyond their control and, thus, dangerous, that this integration is a techie concept with no relation to the real world.

The sale, in this case, is not going to be done by salesmen. The idea is that people who integrate their LinkedIn profiles with their daily workflow will prove more effective than those who don't, that all this will flow from the bottom up, with advertising and trade show support. That, too, is different from the way we're used to seeing business operate.

Even those who are bullish on this deal, like L&F Capital Management and WestEnd511, may be missing this key technology point. In the world of the cloud work is no longer a top-down experience, but a bottom-up lifestyle, no longer a 9-5 experience but closer to a 24-7 one. It has been this way in technology for some time. Can Microsoft sell that to the rest of the business world?

That's the question analysts of this deal should be looking at. Not the numbers, but whether business as a lifestyle, making us all one in the cloud, is something business will buy.

Disclosure: I am/we are long MSFT.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.