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EU Approves Microsoft-LinkedIn Deal

Wired
As European Union regulators gave the green-light to Microsoft on Tuesday in its bid to purchase LinkedIn for $26bn, Microsoft claimed it would use its new-found power to make sure that reducing wealth inequality is an integral part of its own future policies and its interactions with governments around the world...an ironic announcement for some, seeing as how EU deliberations until this point have centred predominantly around the question of whether or not the deal would completely squash fair competition in the European market between LinkedIn and its rival professional networking sites.

Microsoft announced in a blog post on Tuesday that it would be trying from now on 'to do our part to create more opportunity for people who haven't shared in recent economic growth.' The service offered by LinkedIn will most likely improve from this point; meaning a seemingly overall better-oiled economic machine for all of us. What's more, Microsoft has also gestured towards supplying some of the data it has obtained from LinkedIn to the world's governments, that they might begin to redress wealth inequality amongst their populations.

However, apparent goodwill aside, maybe things aren't really that simple.

The decision was pushed through after Microsoft made last-minute concessions at the end of November. The EU has been grappling with criticism of the deal raised by various commentators in business and media over the past few months, led by tech giant Salesforce which (in what's admittedly most likely related news) was pipped to the post by Microsoft in the acquisition bidding for LinkedIn. Such critics have thus far been concerned with whether or not the partnership would mean LinkedIn would come to monopolise the market for professional networking websites. The concessions made by Microsoft a couple of weeks ago, however, didn't really redress their primary concerns; i.e. that Microsoft acting as gatekeeper to LinkedIn's user data could mean a raised drawbridge to other companies who previously took advantage of access to it. Rather, they were somewhat smaller, regarding access to various pieces of software and hardware.

In the aforementioned blog post, Microsoft claimed that 'the events of the past six months make not just this business opportunity, but the broader societal issues connected to them, more important.' The post then went on to describe the Brexit vote (which occurred only days after they won the acquisition bidding in June) and the recent US presidential election as evidence that 'many people feel left out and unable to participate in the economic growth and opportunities created by the rising digital economy.' Microsoft, apparently, is now going to work to redress this; using LinkedIn to do so. 

But perhaps the fact that LinkedIn itself is an entity which creates job opportunities is a factor which, to an extent, is allowing Microsoft to have its cake and eat it here. On the one hand, they're potentially now going to concentrate the profits of the professional networking market in far fewer hands than before, by virtue of the fact that LinkedIn will pull even further head of its rivals (which is perhaps the biggest flaw in a pro-growth outlook). On the other hand, however, they also claim that through this process they'll create new job opportunities; because they will be able to make LinkedIn a platform which offers an even better professional service. The latter, they claim, will outweigh the former; meaning the fact that they are now probably going to drive at least some smaller companies out of business will be a small price to pay when you consider how easy it will be for those newly-unemployed people to find another job!

So, are they fighting fire with fire? Or is this just a ruse made to distract from the same old problem? Whatever the case, the passing of the deal by the European Commission has been very beneficial for both companies. After the news broke, for example, LinkedIn's share price saw a nice jump; and for Microsoft, this was the final large obstacle in the way of completing the overall process which will undoubtedly serve as a hugely lucrative avenue for growth in the future. What that growth means for the people whom Microsoft is now apparently championing is another question.



James has a Bachelor’s degree in History and wrote his dissertation on beef and protest. His heroes list ranges from Adele to Noam Chomsky: inspirations he’ll be invoking next year when he begins a Master’s degree in London. Follow him @Songbird_James


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EU Approves Microsoft-LinkedIn Deal Reviewed by James Stannard on Friday, December 16, 2016 Rating: 5

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