It was roughly six months ago, on June 13, that we announced that Microsoft would acquire LinkedIn. At that time, we said that we aimed to close the deal by the end of the year. Today, the European Commission announced that it has cleared the acquisition. As a result, we’ve now obtained all of the regulatory approvals needed to complete the acquisition, and the deal will close in the coming days.
The approval in Brussels follows similar reviews and clearances in the United States, Canada, Brazil and South Africa. In each country and in a number of others, we’ve had the opportunity to review our combination with government officials and regulators in considerable detail.
As part of our discussions with the European Commission, we formalized several commitments regarding Microsoft’s support for third-party professional social networking services. For example, we’ve committed that for the next five years:
- We’ll continue to make our Office Add-in program available to third-party professional social networking services. The Office Add-in program enables developers to integrate their services into Microsoft Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel, providing users an enhanced experience using Office. As we continue to improve this program, these improvements will be available to third-party professional social networking services.
- We’ll continue to make promotional opportunities in the Office Store available to third-party professional social networking services.
- We’ll ensure that IT administrators and users can customize their Office experience by choosing whether to display in the user interface the LinkedIn profile and activity information that may be integrated in the future.
- If we develop a LinkedIn application or a tile for Windows PCs and include it in Windows, we’ll allow PC manufacturers to choose not to install them on their Windows PCs in the European Economic Area, or EEA. Similarly, we’ll ensure that users can uninstall the application and tile if they wish. We also won’t use Windows itself to prompt users to install a LinkedIn application, although it can remain available in the Windows Store and be promoted in other ways.
- In the EEA we won’t enter into agreements with PC manufacturers for pre-installation of a Windows LinkedIn application or tile that would favor LinkedIn on an exclusive basis and thereby bar the distribution of competing professional social networking services.
We appreciated the opportunity to talk through these and other details in a creative and constructive way with the European Commission.
With this regulatory process behind us, we can bring together two great companies and focus on even broader issues for the future. The events of the past six months make not just this business opportunity, but the broader societal issues connected to them, more important.
In June, Satya Nadella and Jeff Weiner, the CEOs of Microsoft and LinkedIn, announced their shared vision for bringing together the world’s leading professional cloud with the world’s leading professional network. Just ten days after they announced this combination, voters in the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. And roughly five months after that, a tumultuous presidential election campaign in the United States came to a close. On both sides of the Atlantic, it has become increasingly apparent that many people feel left out and unable to participate in the economic growth and opportunities created by the rising digital economy.
While technology tools are not a panacea for current economic challenges, we believe they can make an important contribution. Microsoft and LinkedIn together have a bigger opportunity to help people online to develop and earn credentials for new skills, identify and pursue new jobs, and become more creative and productive as they work with their colleagues. Working together we can do more to serve not only those with college degrees, but the many people pursuing new experiences, skills and credentials related to vocational training and so-called middle skills. Our ambition is to do our part to create more opportunity for people who haven’t shared in recent economic growth.
With the combination of Microsoft and LinkedIn, we can take new steps to help people learn added skills and seek better jobs. Through Microsoft Philanthropies, we’ll invest more than any other company to bring digital skills to schools. Through our Affordable Access initiative and new wireless broadband “TV White Spaces” technologies, we’ll help bring broadband access to more rural communities. And with the LinkedIn Economic Graph, with its data on local job growth and skills needs, there is an expanded opportunity to help governments use better data and analytical capabilities to pursue economic development strategies to help connect people with new opportunities.
We readily recognize that no single company can come close to solving the many economic challenges that confront the world today. Perhaps more than anything else, governments will need to continue to innovate across a wide array of education, training and labor policies. And across the private and public sectors, we all will need to come together and act with a sense of shared responsibility.
There’s no shortage of work – or opportunity – ahead of us.
Having completed detailed conversations with governments around the world about the opportunity to bring Microsoft and LinkedIn together, we’re excited to get started and committed to doing our part.