The new LinkedIn is a lot like the old LinkedIn...only better thanks to Microsoft's (MSFT) resources.
That's the message LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner tried hard to convey as he talked at the Goldman Sachs (GS) Technology & Internet Conference. Here are some takeaways from the talk:
- Citing Facebook's (FB) purchase of Instagram as a potential parallel, Weiner insists LinkedIn has maintained a high degree of autonomy since Microsoft closed its $26.2 billion acquisition of the professional social networking leader in late 2016. "To a large extent, it's the same company," he said. Weiner also noted that instead of having two post-acquisition integration teams as many deals do, the LinkedIn deal only featured one, and that he was in charge of it.
- At the same time, Weiner observed gaining access to Microsoft's sales, R&D and data center resources has been quite helpful. Examples include growing sales of LinkedIn's Sales Navigator social selling tool, expanding in Japan, leveraging Microsoft's big AI investments and using the Azure public cloud platform to power LinkedIn's video services. Weiner added that LinkedIn is seeing the "highest rate" of engineering hiring wins in its history, and thinks Microsoft's resources have something to do with it.
- On the flip side, LinkedIn's professional data and services are finding their way into more and more of Microsoft's products. Examples mentioned by Weiner include integrating Sales Navigator with customer-relationship management (CRM) apps in Microsoft's Dynamics business app suite; attaching LinkedIn profile cards to e-mail addresses in Outlook; making it easy for users prepping resumes in Word to see LinkedIn profile data and recommended jobs. LinkedIn also has been integrated with Microsoft's Cortana assistant service.
- After seeing its revenue grow slowly in 2016, LinkedIn has seen accelerating top-line and user engagement growth the last three quarters, Weiner disclosed. He suggested LinkedIn's investments in overhauling its user experience (still frequently criticized) in areas such as job search, notifications, the inbox and the news feed started yielding a payoff in calendar Q3. Microsoft previously disclosed LinkedIn had posted calendar Q4 revenue of $1.3 billion, with user sessions growing by more than 20% annually for the fifth straight quarter.
- Weiner also talked up the growth outlook for LinkedIn's core Talent Solutions (jobs/hiring services) business. He disclosed there are now over 15 million job listings on LinkedIn, up from 10 million in April and just 350,000 in early 2014, and that the company's new enterprise licensing program had (in return for a lower price per seat) significantly grown Talent Solutions' footprint at major enterprises. Going forward, LinkedIn is hoping its new Talent Insights analytics solution will give the business a lift.