Microsoft would like to add LinkedIn to its professional network.
The tech giant halted trading of its shares Monday morning to announce its intention to purchase the social network for $26.2 billion in cash. Microsoft will be paying $196 per share, according to a release. That’s about $64 more than LinkedIn’s shares last traded at, but they had been trading above $200 until the company issued a gloomy forecast in February. The high price tag also includes LinkedIn’s $3.2 billion in cash and equivalents.
The sale of LinkedIn is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and CEO Jeff Weiner will remain in charge of the company, which Microsoft said will continue to operate independently. Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s co-founder and controlling shareholder, is backing the deal. (Hoffman has 13 million LinkedIn shares, which translates into about $2.55 billion at Microsoft’s bid price.)
Launched in 2003, LinkedIn has about 400 million registered users, although less than 25% of them visit the site on a monthly basis. The company has struggled to keep users coming back when they’re not looking for a job: It launched a blogging platform in 2014 and bought the news service Pulse in 2013 for $90 million, but neither have particularly moved the needle. LinkedIn also purchased Lynda.com, an online learning site, last year for $1.5 billion.
“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a release. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.”
This is Nadella’s first major acquisition at Microsoft since taking the helm two years ago, according to The Verge. Hopefully, it’ll prove a better bet than the last time Microsoft bought a professional network—its $1.2 billion purchase of Yammer hasn’t exactly been a smash hit for the company.
It’s unclear what Microsoft sees in LinkedIn that would make it worth such a high premium, but it does seem, given Nadella’s comments, that the company wants to double down on the professional market. Whether someone is at the office working on an Excel spreadsheet, having a conference call on Skype, checking their email on Outlook—or even if they’re fed up with their job and want to look for a new one on LinkedIn—they’ll still be in Microsoft’s warm embrace.