Microsoft this week took a massive leap into social networking with an agreement to acquire LinkedIn for more than $26 billion.
The tech giant plans to issue new debt for the all-cash transaction, which equates to $196 per share. The amount, however, also translates to about $220 per active LinkedIn user — a premium price despite the social network's weight within professional circles.
Observers said that the deal reflects Microsoft's continued transition away from its software roots toward cloud computing. Microsoft officials lauded the growth of LinkedIn, including its new mobile app and platforms for enterprise and online learning.
"Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in the announcement.
LinkedIn executives, meanwhile, vowed that the company would retain its brand, culture and independence while taking advantage of Microsoft's resources to grow and innovate.
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, who will remain in his position and report to Nadella, wrote in a blog post that the deal would enable the company to join the ranks of the nation's tech titans.
"This is an opportunity for us to truly change the way the world works on a massive scale," Weiner wrote.