When the email arrived last summer, after LinkedIn had agreed to be bought by Microsoft for $26 billion, Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, couldn’t believe his eyes.
He re-read the email from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella several times and then he got Nadella on the phone to confirm it.
Nadella wanted Weiner to be the point person for the acquisition, the guy responsible for leading the merging of LinkedIn into Microsoft.
It basically put Weiner fully in charge of the ways that LinkedIn and Microsoft would integrate their various products together and many other decisions. At the all-hands meeting last summer, after the acquisition was announced, Weiner told his employees about the email. This helped sooth the nerves of people who had no interest in working for Microsoft, according to sources.
It was an unusual set up. Typically an integration team is led by someone from the company doing the buying and Microsoft usually tag teams this part of the process.
While it’s common for an acquiring company to promise such a hands-off experience while courting a potential acquisition, it’s also common for the buying company to actually be pretty hands-on after the deal closes. (We’ve heard stories of the CEOs of acquired companies showing up the first day after the acquisition to discover that their engineering team was being relocated one place, while they were given a small office elsewhere.)
Nadella, however, only required a couple of things. He wanted LinkedIn’s data to be used to enrich Microsoft’s customer relationship management product (CRM), the one that competes with rival Salesforce. He wanted Weiner to explore all the ways that LinkedIn could be used with Microsoft Office and Outlook and other products, and he wanted LinkedIn to continue to grow its business at about the same rate it was growing before the acquisition, people close to the company told Business Insider.
When Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff started rattling his chains and complaining to regulators about the acquisition, people on the transition team rolled their eyes.
- Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for Fortune
They were confident that Benioff’s efforts wouldn’t succeed in derailing the acquisition, but “the irony wasn’t lost” on them, one person close to the company said. Salesforce was one of the key contenders trying to buy LinkedIn. That meant that the complaints he was making against Microsoft “would have been issues for him,” too, this person said.
(To recap: Benioff feared that LinkedIn would cut off Salesforce’s access to LinkedIn data, crucial for sales people using his CRM product. Microsoft has promised not to do that, although it does intend to give its own CRM product some yet-to-be-announced advantages.)
Now that the has deal closed on schedule, Weiner remains in control as promised. The integration teams meet weekly and include execs from both LinkedIn and Microsoft who report on their work to Nadella. “Jeff sets the priority to drive alignment and escalation around key opportunities,” one person close to the company told us.
We understand that LinkedIn’s 10,000 employees do not fear losing their perks like free lunches (something Microsoft doesn’t offer its employees in Redmond), but there is one change they may soon see: no more G Suite, aka Gmail and Google Apps.
According to someone close to the company, this change is not being driven by demands from Microsoft that LinkedIn switch to Office 365. We hear that Google is the one that isn’t thrilled to have such a large G Suite customer owned by Microsoft. Google doesn’t want to be put in a position where it’s sharing product road map and other tidbits with a company its biggest rival, this person tells us. (Google declined to comment)
LinkedIn has not yet ditched Google Apps, but employees are increasingly hearing that this change may be coming soon, they tell us.