Could Microsoft’s LinkedIn revolutionize competency-based learning?

A Large Bid—for What?

Microsoft made a $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn this month, paying almost 50 percent more per share than the price at which the social network last traded. Investors and consultants have been asking “why?”

Ed-tech speculation is aggregating toward the idea that between LinkedIn’s workspace clout and Microsoft’s computational power, the two ed-tech giants have a formula for superior synergy…and that synergy most-likely revolves around online career competencies and workplace matching.

In other words, Microsoft could soon become a professional must-have, especially in HR.

With its Office suite—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.—Microsoft already dominates the market for productivity tools,” says Quartz news outlet. “Given LinkedIn’s complementary focus on employment skills and career advancement (including its purchase last year of online education company,,) Microsoft is now in a great position to take over the hiring and education sides of work as well.”

“Microsoft can drive the evolution of the competency marketplace in ways LinkedIn as a standalone company couldn’t,” says Ryan Craig, managing director of private equity fund University Ventures, which focuses on the higher education sector, for Quartz. “They can offer a complete HR solution.”

A LinkedIn-Microsoft product would not only help workers work, but also teach them the skills to get hired in the first place.

“LinkedIn has a unique advantage in the education space, in that they are the only place where hundreds of millions of people are voluntarily giving their longitudinal job and education history—which allows potentially for some unique analysis of what programs and courses or certifications actually lead to improved career paths,” says education consultant Michael Feldstein for Quartz. Microsoft could examine that data and then offer those programs itself.

While Feldstein says Microsoft likely has “too much to lose by competing against traditional universities,” with whom it has close partnerships, it could easily dominate the corporate training market—currently a fragmented space with plenty of room for new players.

Click here for the full Quartz article, with comments from a LinkedIn executive on the merger’s potential to “transform learning development.”

Additional Resources on Microsoft and LinkedIn: