Data Privacy: LinkedIn Soon to Be Under Microsoft’s Control
Microsoft buys LinkedIn for over 26 billion dollars (US). Let’s pause for a moment and ponder what that means... it’s a lot to take in. With the merger of these two mammoth corporations, both in revenue and information ownership, the effects of the acquisition will be felt far and wide. The Economist reckons it “…may not be the smartest”, while the New York Times says Microsoft is, “…reasserting its muscle.”
So What’s the Deal?
According to The Register, LinkedIn is being bought at 196 dollars per share, up significantly from the usual closing price and should be finalized by the end of 2016 provided that all shareholder approvals and other regulatory commitments for the transaction have been met. Jeff Weiner will remain CEO of LinkedIn while reporting to Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella.
LinkedIn Excited About Embracing New Opportunities
Wiener motivated his decision, in a letter published on LinkedIn, to sell the company as, “The Microsoft that has evolved under Satya’s leadership is a more agile, innovative, open and purpose-driven company. It was the latter point that first had me thinking we could make this work, but it was his thoughts on how we’d do it that got me truly excited about the prospect.”
Microsoft Intends Greater Integration
Nadella told staff at Microsoft that the deal potentially "brings together a professional's information in LinkedIn's public network with the information in Office 365 and Dynamics [an ERP solution]. This combination will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you're trying to complete.”
Nadella continued, "As these experiences get more intelligent and delightful, the LinkedIn and Office 365 engagement will grow, and in turn, new opportunities will be created for monetization through individual and organization subscriptions and targeted advertising."
And the Impact on Data Privacy?
To better understand the scale of information available through LinkedIn as a networking, career-building and content publishing tool, here are some key facts:
- Membership sits at 433 million (as per their Q1 2016 results)
- The geographical reach includes 200 countries and territories
- 45 billion page views of members (in Q1 2016)
- The more complete the profile, the more effective
The Big Data pool available to Microsoft is thus significantly improved and vastly expanded when LinkedIn data is added. Some speculation exists around other points of integration to Office 365 and Dynamics, namely Cortana. Trevor Pott at The Register mentions that Microsoft understands the value of the information. Since there has been perceived untrustworthy behavior before, employing a tool like Cortana, which would effectively have access to all aspects of a person’s life, the information is free game save for the disclaimers and so-called privacy agreements the user knowingly or unknowingly accepts.
Especially with the recent spat about Microsoft using bully-like tactics to get users to upgrade to Windows 10, one would be forgiven for thinking twice about where this is going and what it could mean for the privacy of your personal information. So when confidential information such as passwords gets stolen due to compromised privacy, it’s better to be safe than sorry by securing your own information and making sure you keep an eye out for suspicious activity.