A $26.2 billion (£20.68B) acquisition by Microsoft of business-focused social network LinkedIn has been finalized six months after the deal was first announced, the companies said on Thursday.
The buy-out received final approval from the European Commission earlier this week, showcasing the international scope of Microsoft’s plans.
The deal is the largest acquisition of a social network in history, besting Facebook’s $19 billion (£15.11 billion) purchase of messaging service WhatsApp in 2014.
LinkedIn, founded in 2002, found a niche audience as a platform for professionals, entrepreneurs and hiring recruiters. It continued to grow and survived while many other social networking entries faded away. When Microsoft announced it was acquiring the company in June, more than 450 million people had an account on LinkedIn.
Since the deal was revealed, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said the creator of the Windows operating system planned to integrate the social network into its popular Outlook email service and Office productivity software. For example, Microsoft noted how a user who is editing a resume on its Word software could easily upload it to LinkedIn.
In a post on LinkedIn on Thursday, Nadella said, “Today I am even more enthusiastic about the common mission and sense of purpose we share, the similarities in our cultures, and the added value we can create for LinkedIn members, to help professionals transform how they work, realize new career opportunities and connect in new ways”.
Jeff Wiener, LinkedIn’s CEO, will continue to lead the service under Microsoft.
“Over the past few months, the LinkedIn and Microsoft leadership teams have been meeting to understand and prioritize the opportunities ahead,” Wiener said in an open letter to employees. “We’ve been able to see first-hand the level of innovation being driven at scale — in artificial intelligence, machine learning, the cloud, devices, and more,” he added.