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Microsoft Proposal for LinkedIn is Latest Example of Innogration

By Benjamin Shepherd on June 13, 2016

If you’ve been following Smart Tech Investor or our new Breakthrough Tech Profits, you no doubt know that “innogration” is a big theme our Chief Investment Strategist, Jim Pearce, likes to follow. It basically combines the ideas of innovation and integration – developing new products in-house and acquiring complementary products from other companies or even the companies themselves. There have been a couple big deals recently that exemplify that idea.

The first is the pending buyout of Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), which is currently the subject of a bidding war of sorts. You’ll recall that the search giant has been ailing over the past few years, losing market share to Google (NSDQ: GOOG) despite its search business being a big deal back in the 1990s and early 2000s. It’s finally reached the point where its core internet business is worth substantially less than the company’s stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (NYSE: BABA), though. Yahoo execs actually wanted to sell its Alibaba holdings and keep its core internet business but U.S. tax authorities scuttled that deal, so now the core business is on the auction block.

So far, the former search giant has attracted an interesting array of bidders, ranging from Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans, AT&T (NYSE: T), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) to the British news outlet The Daily Mail. Why the interest? While most of us don’t think of Yahoo as a go-to source for much (hence the problem), it still generates a lot of traffic. It was the third most visited online platform in the U.S. this past February, attracting more than 204 million people. Social media behemoth Facebook (NSDQ: FB) only had 1% more users than Yahoo.

In addition to all those eyeballs, Yahoo also has a fairly sophisticated advertising platform, even if it hasn’t been able to put it to best use. That makes Yahoo an attractive property, especially for a company like Verizon. Verizon acquired AOL last year mostly as a platform for digital advertising. Tucking in Yahoo would give it more content, more eyeballs and extra marketing oomph with a technology upgrade, which is by no means a bad combination.

The same logic holds for the just announced tie-up between Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD). Microsoft is widely believed to have been slow getting into the CRM business and social networking, despite its fairly early embrace of the cloud with Microsoft Office 365. LinkedIn, on the other hand, has the social networking aspect of the business down and has been trying to push into professional development and marketing, but hasn’t had great success.

The marriage of the two companies will create a superior product, with LinkedIn’s pool of information on millions of professionals getting merged into Microsoft’s CRM system. That will give users a leg up on establishing relationships and closing deals, which will really help the combined company against the likes of Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM).

Again, a great example of innogration which should be profitable for both the companies involved and their investors. And one which will be using to find investment ideas for our portfolios.


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