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Wall Street is cautiously optimistic about Microsoft’s $26 billion mega-buy of the professional social network LinkedIn, and now Bill Gates is adding his support too.
“I think it’s a great transaction,” Gates told Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker in an on-screen interview. “LinkedIn brings in a lot.”
The opportunity, Gates said, is to combine Microsoft’s productivity expertise with LinkedIn’s social networking know-how to become the center of people’s professional lives.
“If we can make that as valuable as say the Facebook feed in the social world, that’s huge value creation, and that’ll happen over a period of years,” Gates said.
While Gates stepped down from his day-to-day duties as executive chairman of Microsoft in 2014, he stays involved at the company as an adviser to current CEO Satya Nadella.
Gates said Microsoft was already an “expert in software and managing those audiences” and could use LinkedIn’s news feed to deliver a professional feed on everything that’s happening inside and outside a user’s company, tracking the skills needed to stay competitive.
“I certainly think the value of the two companies combined is greater than the two by themselves, but I love the idea that the market wants us to show that,” Gates said.
Gates was reportedly the voice of dissent that killed a proposed $8 billion Microsoft bid for the hot chat startup Slack, on the grounds that Microsoft could build something better in-house with Skype.
In that light, Gates’ throwing his support behind Microsoft’s $26 billion LinkedIn deal, seen by some to be a too-steep premium, suggests there just might be something for shareholders to celebrate here.