Microsoft and LinkedIn: Irrational exuberance?

M&A

Microsoft is buying LinkedIn for $25.2 million, even though LinkedIn isn’t profitable. LinkedIn reported a net loss of $8.4 million, or 6 cents per share, in the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2015 and has forecast a much weaker-than-expected 2016.

Moreover, the number of unique monthly visitors to LinkedIn didn’t grow over the second half of 2015. Plus, total page views were down in the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2016 for just the second time in the past 16 quarters.

 

Microsoft’s history of acquisitions isn’t exactly an endorsement of the company’s prescience. Microsoft’s purchase of aQuantive in 2007 for $6 billion and of Nokia’s handset business in 2014 for $7.2 billion were complete failures.

Then there was Microsoft’s $1.2 billion purchase of Yammer in 2012.

“This is the best Silicon Valley deal we’ve seen all year,” said Eric M. Jackson in VentureBeat, a source for news on technology innovation. “Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of Instagram makes Microsoft’s pickup of Yammer look like the Louisiana Purchase by comparison.”

Four years later Yammer is an afterthought at Microsoft.

In fact, the first question to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on a Monday conference call alluded to this. “You’ve had a tough track record in large M&A,” said Brent Thill, a UBS analyst. “Why is this deal different?”

Irrational exuberance, Microsoft?

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