A week ago, we reported that EU Commission, which is expected to rule on Microsoft’s $26 billion takeover of LinkedIn by December 6th had reportedly given the all-clear to the Redmond giant. In the meantime, Konstantin Guericke, LinkedIn Co-Founder and former VP of Marketing revealed today in an interview with CNBC that Microsoft already tried to acquire the company before he left it in 2006. “Microsoft since the early days had a standing offer to our VCs, saying look, if you want to sell the company talk to us, so it’s not a surprise that Microsoft ended up doing the deal,” he explained.
However, the exec added Microsoft didn’t have a good opportunity to buy the company ten years ago as LinkedIn always considered that it would only sell at a high price:
They have always had a sort of line out. It was always difficult because we could see our business growing and so we always had a pretty high valuation in mind because we could see … how the company was going to evolve for the next few years, so there was always a high premium attached that didn’t really make sense for an acquirer to do.
Guericke also went on to say that he is a bit “sad” about the acquisition, even though he admitted that “for all the other companies that it could have been combined with, I think Microsoft makes a lot of sense.” However, the LinkedIn co-founder added the acquisition could only be successful if Redmond allowed the professional social network to remain an independent company, drawing interesting comparisons to Microsoft’s mismanagement of its previous Nokia acquisition:
I think it’s very different situation. Nokia was not exactly thriving at the time when this happened. LinkedIn was thriving and it’s kind of a career make-or-break for the Microsoft CEO so I think it’ll be handled differently, partly because of the lesson of Nokia.
Fortunately, it seems exactly what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has in mind. Earlier this month, LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman discussed the purchase at the EY Strategic Growth Forum, sharing some details about his discussions with Nadella. “He was talking about doing this in a very different way regarding how Microsoft had done previous acquisitions,” explained Weiner, who added that Nadella convinced him that “LinkedIn could continue to focus on growing LinkedIn.” If Microsoft did wait ten years to make its biggest acquisition ever, Guericke is probably right to think that Nadella will have a lot of pressure on its hands to make this acquisition a win-win situation.