Microsoft's Acquisition Of LinkedIn Makes Sense, If You Look At How Far The Gig Economy Has Come

I’m one of the folks who heard about Microsoft's $26B acquisition of LinkedIn and immediately thought, hide you wife, hide you kids, BUBBLE!! Cash deal? Come on!

I must admit, as a self professed Nokia fanboy, the idea of an acquisition by Microsoft doesn’t really inspire confidence.

But after thinking about it for a bit, it doesn’t seem to be all doom and gloom.

Consider, for a moment, the rise of the gig economy. The latest research estimates that the ranks of the American freelancer now comprise 34% of the U.S. workforce. More and more people are setting off on their own.

Now this in some part stems from a desire have more control over how and when they work, with a focus on crafting a better work-life balance or choosing a passion-driven career. All of this is managed, one could every say enabled by technology. Put simply, the gig economy makes all those things possible on a scale like never before.

If you look at LinkedIn as a repository of people and skills and imagine that they can throw in some kind of vetting/ranking, then things can get interesting. Want to hire an accountant? There’s a list of accountants near you ranked in some format with recommendations from folks they’ve worked with before. It would basically work as a referral engine for a pool of skills, a great resource for any business.

If you can build that into the service offering of Microsoft’s Office365, you can provide one hell of a product to small and medium sized businesses all over the world. Think about it like that and all of a sudden that buy makes a hell of a lot of sense.

Freelancers are also potential customers, the accountant you select may need a lawyer one day, that lawyer may need a caterer for an end of year party for her best clients. Being in the middle of all those connections (through LinkedIn) is a great place for Microsoft to sit and offer it’s products and services.