Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff slams Microsoft’s plans to deny LinkedIn data access to its rivals

Microsoft LinkedIn

Back in June, Microsoft announced their biggest acquisition to date. Microsoft said that it will acquire LinkedIn for $196 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $26.2 billion. The final acquisition price was a result of a bidding war between Salesforce and Microsoft. LinkedIn’s regulatory filing revealed that Salesforce would have bid much higher and made changes to the stock/cash components of its offers, but it was acting without communications from LinkedIn. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff also confirmed in couple of interviews that they were very much interested in acquiring LinkedIn, but Microsoft won the deal.

Microsoft has not yet closed the LinkedIn deal as it is seeking regulatory approvals. Salesforce CEO today tweeted that Microsoft is planning to lock down LinkedIn data from its rivals.

He also tweeted about the same to FTC and European Commissioner for Competition. Actually, Microsoft should get approval from both these agencies to close their deal and he wants these agencies to look into the comments from Microsoft executive Scott Guthrie.

I read Scott Guthrie’s Deutsche Bank Technology Conference interview and I don’t understand what is anti-competitive about it. He said Microsoft will integrate LinkedIn into Dynamics to offer great insights and it will be a big advantage for Microsoft as others can’t provide the same experience. To be honest, Microsoft is paying $26 billion for LinkedIn mainly because of its data. I don’t understand why Microsoft will give LinkedIn data away for free to Salesforce. Salesforce asking access to LinkedIn data is like Google asking Facebook to give access to its social graph. I hope Marc actually clarifies what he really meant. I won’t be surprised if Salesforce formally raises its concerns to FTC and EU.

I’ve included the whole transcript of Scott’s interview below.

KARL KEIRSTEAD:  Good.  And maybe just in our last minute, the other business under your responsibility is Dynamics, and I think everybody in the room, their eyes popped a little bit a couple of days ago you announced a win at HP Inc.  And that’s significant in a number of respects, and perhaps you’re limited from giving us too much detail, but we all thought HP Inc. was a Salesforce client.  So is this a takeaway, and what does that say about Dynamics CRM because I think there’s been a general perception that that’s more the mid-market product.  And I wonder if this win with HP Inc. is perhaps a harbinger of Microsoft having a little more success up market against Oracle and Salesforce?

SCOTT GUTHRIE:  Yeah.  I think the HP Inc. takeout yesterday — Salesforce takeout.

KARL KEIRSTEAD:  It was?

SCOTT GUTHRIE:  Yeah.  They were a very large Salesforce shop or were until yesterday.  And they’re planning a massive migration and a big bet on Dynamics.  And it’s one of the more public ones that we’ve had, but we’re starting to see some really good success in the market at a broad level, in particular around enterprise.  And I would say for CRM in particular enterprise is our sweet spot. Other parts of the Dynamics is maybe a little bit more mid-market in the ERP space, but in particular for customer engagement solutions I think we’ve got a very strong enterprise product and we’re growing very, very fast.

I think we’ve kind of talked about the cloud growth that we’ve had obviously with Azure and Office 365, Dynamics has been on an absolute tear as well.  And we see huge upside with that.  And the exciting part, we’ve announced plans to acquire LinkedIn.  It’s not complete yet, so kind of all the standard caveats there.  But the interesting thing, assuming regulatory approval and all the right caveats Zack wants me to say, the signal that you get from a professional graph, say for example from LinkedIn, where you know who knows who, each other, you know the relationships, you know their skill sets, you know who they worked with in the past.

The insight you get from a sales reps’ or customer service reps’ inbox with Exchange and what we have in Office 365, the insight you get from someone’s calendar, and even with Skype all of their phone and voice communications and IM traffic, you take all that together and have a cloud that can do deep insight and analytics and machine learning and AI on top of that.  You create the ultimate selling tool, the ultimate customer support tool in the industry because you have so much insight that can assist a sales rep or assist a customer service rep that no one other vendor can provide.

And we’re very excited in terms of over the next year or so to make that really come to market.  And you’ll see a lot more announcements and demos of that type of technology even in the next couple of weeks.

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