Does Satya understand society?
I think he understands enough that he values bringing our companies together, because it can really matter across a different set of Microsoft products and initiatives. In addition to being valuable LinkedIn in its own right, the combination could amplify some of their strategies.
When I have written about Satya Very early in his tenure, he promised to change Microsoft’s culture. Do you believe that cultural change is real?
This event is certainly a strong positive expression of my view of Satya’s Microsoft culture. Without strong cultural cohesion, there is no chance of us having this conversation. And it’s not just culture. Satya and Jeff are both motivated by the mission. They share the same kind of leadership. Part of doing that job is maintaining what’s great about each company independently. We will remain active as a network company and they will remain active as a corporate productivity company.
Why is now the right time for this acquisition?
There is nothing particularly magical about this particular month compared to three months ago or three months therefore. We looked at whether we could do a business development deal. To really help people work in corporations, the level of integration has to be so deep that this makes more sense than anything else. Funny, one of the things I remember my co-founders and I literally talked about the first month after our debut in ’03 was, ‘what we wanted to happen. What is the best way to fulfill your mission? ‘ It’s integrated in Outlook.
I wrote my first LinkedIn story in 2005 or so. Back then, there were a lot of social media emerging, and to my young journalist’s eyes, LinkedIn was boring. Why do you think LinkedIn is one of the two important social networks of that group to great success?
We have certain parts of the hypothesis about what will really help people’s lives and we are really focused on them. If you think about 2003, most of our competitors have one of two shapes. In professional networks, contacts are owned by companies, not individuals. Our point of view is: how do you allow personal experts to make yourself more efficient? Their network is owned by them, not by their company.
Others argue that all that matters is social media. Social networking will be the way things happen, including business, and it is more about entertainment and visuals, fun and games. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t really work for us. We have been – and are – on economic and job opportunity. We can try to make it as fun and easy as possible, but that’s often much less interesting than the cool pictures of cats. That’s why most people react a bit like you – well, LinkedIn is a boring thing.
So boring is good.
Being boring one is perfectly fine. In fact, we once said – and Jeff then repeated – that the difference between different types of society is this: is your view of wasting time or spending time? [Entertainment-focused] Social media is about spending time, and what makes you spend your time? It must be entertaining. But we want to help people complete important tasks in a shorter amount of time.
How would you describe your work for LinkedIn now? Not your title, but the kind of work you’re actually doing.
Usually I stay in Greylock on Mondays and here Tuesday through Friday, unless I am traveling. But I often go to LinkedIn China, so it’s also LinkedIn’s job to travel a lot. My job has three buckets. One team is working with Jeff and the executive team on our key strategies and what we see happening in the world around us. We anticipate the impact of various technologies from blockchain to artificial intelligence and decide how to chart that strategy.