Why did LinkedIn sell to Microsoft?

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JASON LEMKIN

There is only one reason: they no longer believed they could do better than $26.2 Billion, risk and time adjusted. Even though they were worth far more just a few months earlier.

No one really wants to sell. Sometimes, yes, CEOs get tired. But I didn’t see that, from a distance at least, in Jeff Weiner. If you are totally burnt out, and can’t recruit a replacement better than you … fair and good reason to sell.

And sometimes, non-founder CEOs have strong economic incentives to sell (golden parachutes + large equity acceleration). That doesn’t appear to be the prime motive here at all. And even if it were (which it isn’t), it wouldn’t be Reid Hoffman’s motivation.

Also, perhaps, they were worried about shareholder activists forcing change at the company given the slowing growth. Dealing with shareholder activists these days is a huge headache, and the trade-offs they can try to force on you on maximizing for cash flow, forcing layoffs, cutting back equity compensation … can be very challenging.

But otherwise, the only reason is that you see this as Maximum Value, risk and time adjusted.

Otherwise, even at 20% Year-over-Year growth, why sell? Just in 3.5–4 years, your revenues will double again. And again.

Perhaps Jeff Weiner, coming from Yahoo!, saw an endgame of zero or tiny growth. Perhaps Reid Hoffman saw something like this as well. Either or both of them must have.

But if $26.2 Billion isn’t as good as you believe you can get, as a public company already worth $19 Billion on its own the day before, and having been worth more than $32 Billion just a few months earlier … why sell?

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Published on June 15, 2016
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