Microsoft to Pay a Pretty Penny for LinkedIn
What It Means for Rural Internet Users
The tech giant Microsoft and professional social network LinkedIn announced that Microsoft would acquire the social network for $26.2 billion. The acquisition is, by far, the largest in the tech giant’s history. Microsoft will pay three times more for it than it did for it’s second largest acquisition, Skype, which it purchased for $8.5 billion in 2011.
Under Microsoft ownership, Skype (alongside its voice over internet protocol competitors) experienced massive growth in user traffic. Between 2012 and 2013, for example, Skype saw a 36% increase in international Skype-to-Skype traffic . Although growth is always good news for companies, Microsoft likely has different motives for acquiring this social network, which is growing slowly.
Microsoft continues to make most of its money from enterprise software and services like OfficeSuite. LinkedIn, then, is as much a network of potential customers for Microsoft’s software as it is a separate project.
LinkedIn currently has 100 million active monthly users  and, according to a Pew study, half of all college graduates in the United States have an account on the social network . Their users are also overwhelmingly corporate, which means many use – or can be convinced to use – Microsoft software and services.
People use LinkedIn to find a job, certainly, but they also use it for professional networking and development once they have a job. This is where Microsoft is likely to find the greatest benefit by marketing Microsoft software on the social network or, better, integrating software and services like Windows OneDrive into the social network experience.
Microsoft is often criticized for being slower to adapt to changes in the online technology marketplace than competitor Google. This acquisition is an opportunity for Microsoft to be a pioneer in online integration. LinkedIn is a much more successful social network than Google’s Google+, which is integrated with the cloud service Google Drive. Integrating LinkedIn with current Microsoft offerings could attract new customers to old products.
Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn is, likely, not particularly good news for rural users. Integrating their new acquisition with Microsoft software will reaffirm the social network’s corporate identity and be of little benefit to traditional rural occupations like agriculture.
Traditional rural occupations are already vastly underrepresented on the site . In rural areas, LinkedIn is half as popular as it is in urban and suburban areas. According to a Sprout Social study, just 14% of adults (18 and older) living in rural areas use LinkedIn .
There are, however, pockets in the agricultural industry that do see benefit from LinkedIn. A survey by CropLife Media Group found that, while half of farmers and agriculture retailers have a negative opinion of social media overall, 30% of retailers and 41% of managers use LinkedIn to network.