Salesforce Made An Offer For LinkedIn, But Got Outbid By Microsoft, Bloomberg Reports

Salesforce not only was trying to secure a deal to acquire LinkedIn, but drove up the price in a bidding war that forced Microsoft to pay an almost 50 percent premium on the social network’s market capitalization, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

The San Francisco-based customer relationship management vendor saw the potential benefits of adding the professional networking site to its portfolio of cloud-based sales, marketing and service management products, but ultimately couldn't top the $26.2 billion offered by the world’s largest software company.

Earlier this week, partners implementing Microsoft's Dynamics customer relationship management told CRN that LinkedIn's products and unrivaled store of business professional data would give them a potent weapon in battling Salesforce, the CRM leader.

[Related: Microsoft's Nadella On The Blockbuster LinkedIn Deal: Integrating Office365 And Dynamics CRM, Machine Learning And Security Implications]

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Goldman Sachs advised Salesforce in negotiations, the business news site reported, and LinkedIn Executive Chairman Reid Hoffman and CEO Jeff Weiner reached out to Microsoft to get the talks rolling, telling CEO Satya Nadella they had engaged financial advisers to shepherd a sale.

Once Microsoft integrates LinkedIn's network -- embedding contextual professional data directly into its sales management platforms -- users would be able to seamlessly access a resource in a way no other CRM vendor could hope to match, Microsoft partners said.

Todd Schwartz, co-CEO of SkyKick, a Microsoft technology partner that offers a popular tool for onboarding business customers to Microsoft's cloud-based office productivity suite, illustrated to CRN what a potential integration of LinkedIn with Dynamics and other products could look like, and why it would enhance the experience of sales agents and marketers using those products.

"You'll have more information about the people you do business with, having that social context, directly on an email," Schwartz explained. "We could have a much more productive conversation based on the things we know about each other."

That accessibility to potential buyers' professional information directly through the Dynamics CRM would set Microsoft's product apart in the ultra-competitive market, he said.

"If that experience can be differentiated because of a network we have in common, you're much more likely to make the sale," Schwartz said. "We use Dynamics internally. Having that at your fingertips, pre-integrated, would be super, super helpful."