For a sum of $26.2 billion, US-based software manufacturer Microsoft has bought professional social network LinkedIn, which has 433 million users worldwide.

In a telephone interview with Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella said that the agreement will unite the professional cloud and professional network.

The deal, which will include LinkedIn’s net cash, comes at a time when Microsoft is transitioning rapidly into cloud computing.To date, this is Microsoft’s largest acquisition, beating its deal with Nokia in 2014. However, Nadella was not involved in the deal, which cost close to $9.4 billion.

As jointly stated in an interview with LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, their talks commenced in February 2016. Both CEOs first encountered each other a few years ago at a conference at Microsoft’s main office. As a result of the agreement, which is expected to be completed sometime in 2016, Microsoft will integrate its apps and services like Skype into the career-based network.

It is worth noting that Microsoft is one of LinkedIn’s largest customers.  As a result of the takeover, Jeff Weiner will remain as CEO. Additionally, the deal also means improvement in terms of reach, engagement, apps, productivity tools and information sharing. According to Weiner, one’s LinkedIn profile should be more than just comprehensive; it should also be ‘fresh’ and ‘complete’.

Following the buy, Microsoft will gain access to much information that is possibly sensitive. Both companies will be pressured to enforce policies that ensure privacy is safeguarded.  In April 2016, different executives had dinner, where they spent the evening discussing methods they could make their technologies work in tandem.

Prior to the announcement of the buy on June 13, both executive teams met for a casual dinner, which included an icebreaker during which attendees were requested to share something personal that was unlisted on their LinkedIn profiles. Besides the CEOs, attendees included Microsoft executive Qi Lu and LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman.

The implication for LinkedIn, which has been experiencing slow growth recently, is that the network will become more popular with more members and frequent visits and updates.

– Yong Jo Leen, Correspondent (Business)

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