LinkedIn has likely ended with a bang its run as an independent company built upon a network of professionals, clearly beating out what Wall Street sought.
Of course, this report is largely moot. Earlier this year, LinkedIn announced it would be acquired by Microsoft for $26.2 billion. Microsoft beat out several bidders in the process, including Salesforce, and that price largely reset the damages from the company’s Q4 earnings report that sent the stock into a tailspin. But this report itself might signal why Microsoft was so interested in the company.
LinkedIn reported revenue of $932.7 million and earnings of $1.13 per share. Analysts were expecting earnings of 78 cents per share on $898 million in revenue. LinkedIn’s report today caps off a half decade-ish run as an independent company valued somewhere between a social network and an enterprise recruiting solution.
The Microsoft/LinkedIn deal is expected to close this calendar year, according to when the companies announced the acquisition.
LinkedIn’s core user base continued to grow, now up to 450 million cumulative members and 106 million monthly unique visitors. That’s still 450 million potential eyeballs and 450 million units of data that Microsoft now has on professionals that interact with the network at varying levels. Some member data is obviously stronger than others, but at its core it gives Microsoft a unique look into how people behave and operate throughout their careers. For a company that specializes in enterprise services like Office 365, that’s going to be key to continue growing that ecosystem.
Instead of looking back at the year to date, or the past year, it’s probably better to put the company’s stock performance in perspective over the entire course of its life. LinkedIn long had the benefit of the doubt from investors that it wasn’t simply a SaaS company that would be valued along the same multiples as something like Salesforce. Instead, it was a database of professionals with network effects that businesses could tap into for anything from corporate development to recruiting.
Recently, LinkedIn’s business had to basically be re-assessed. That came to a head in its fourth quarter last year, when a catastrophic quarterly earnings report cleaved the company’s share price in half. LinkedIn suddenly had to be revalued as a core business. And with that dramatic a stock price drop, that also led it to be a more palatable target for larger acquirers like Microsoft and Salesforce.
For those long LinkedIn, the return isn’t that bad despite the rocky ride the company has had over the years. LinkedIn’s shares are about double from when they went public circa 2011. LinkedIn now enters a phase of its life as part of a much larger empire, and it still remains to be seen where the company will go from here within the bounds of Microsoft.
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If there were ever a phrase to sum up its run, this is it: “In light of the pending merger, LinkedIn will not be updating its outlook for fiscal 2016 and will not be hosting a conference call for its second quarter 2016 business results.”
And that’s a wrap.