In recent months I often thought LinkedIn would probably merge with, or be acquired by, some other larger Tech entity. I wasn’t actually aware of the apparent interest from Google in doing just this recently, before the deal apparently falling through.
My money was on Facebook.
The two “social” networks had spent the last 10 years in diametrically opposed camps, one staunchly related to the place of work, and the other squarely focused on life outside work. But then they seemed to be trying to be more like each other. With the awkwardness (and you could say ineffectiveness) of a coalition Government, we saw Facebook encouraging their users to enter what schools and Universities they went to, and their place of work, while pushing their Graph Search product to help recruiters and marketers find these newly codified profiles. We also saw LinkedIn freshen up their appearance and develop their mobile platform to prompt more “social” interactions although the clicking of the generic “Say Congrats” button when a connection changed jobs had all the “social” sincerity of a comment in a leaving card for the person in Accounts who’s name you could never remember.
Plus they installed emoticons into their new Messaging centre… *shudder*
It seemed to me that LinkedIn was kind of losing its way. Response rates from InMails had plummeted, the share price was dropping, Recruiter licenses were being cancelled and their slightly bizarre series of road-trips to various bars of New Zealand to host the confused and shuffling throngs of random NZ recruiters and HR people seemed like some kind of desperate last ditch attempt by a guy to win back the affections of his scorned and disinterested girlfriend with some flowers and a box of Roses.
It seemed to make sense, as technology increasingly blends our work lives with our professional lives, that Facebook would just merge with LinkedIn and see if they could provide a combined best-of-both-worlds networking tool.
But then this week, all of a sudden, Microsoft bought LinkedIn for US$26.2 Billion.
It seemed to come out of nowhere and yet, now it’s happened, no-one really seems that surprised. LinkedIn was starting to slide. The clamour of annoyance at their painfully, cloyingly pious newsfeeds and automated impersonalisations were turning the more innovative recruiters towards new sourcing channels. And it felt like the less innovative, which is the noble mass of us, were close to following suit.
But LinkedIn remains an important channel for recruiters and, hopefully, this will prove to be a lifeline to their offering that keeps it relevant for recruiters.
Or, maybe, it might now make it even better.
One of my biggest bug bears with LinkedIn was the Search function and it’s lack of agility and intuition. Assuming that Bing will soon be powering this function it can only be a positive, both for finding more relevant people faster, and also for the scarcely-used Bing too, for that matter.
I can also imagine the improvements now lining up for those plain and boring recruiters (like me) that use MS Outlook for emails and calendars. Combining simple email inboxes and folders, and upcoming calendar events, with richer information around the professional background of the person you’re emailing, or things in common with the person you’re about to meet, is potent information in the hands of the better recruiters.
One other thing that occurred to me was also the potential for the MS Dynamics CRM platform to start making plays into the HR Tech market in New Zealand. As you can see from the slide below, which is from this slide deck from the announcement webinar, the functionality that combining the data and networks of LinkedIn with the CRM capabilities of Dynamics could make for an interesting new option in the current recruitment ATS and CRM offerings out there:
Here in NZ we had a surge of Salesforce based recruitment platforms a few years ago, with Job Science in particular gaining some traction, before Job Adder made a focused and bold (and successful) play for market share here. It will be interesting to see if anyone now builds something competitive on the Dynamics platform to give those of you still labouring along on older systems something else to think about.
It will be interesting to see how things play out, in particular what it means for us in NZ, but I doubt this news will prove to be a bad thing for those of us in recruitment.
For far more expert and insightful analysis into this deal, and what it might mean for recruitment, I would recommend (as ever) you read the musings of Matt Charney.
For the rest of you who have read enough and would rather just get on with recruiting again (like me), I wish you a good Friday!