Microsoft is set to buy out the business-focused social network LinkedIn for $26.2bn (£18.5bn) in cash, its biggest ever purchase.
Microsoft said that after the acquisition, LinkedIn will “retain its distinct brand, culture and independence”.
Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s chief executive, said the deal “gives us a chance to change the way the world works”.
LinkedIn has 433 million members. When the network was founded in California in 2003, 4,500 members joined after its first month. There are 106 million monthly unique visitors to the website and in the first quarter of 2016, there were 45 billion page views, up from 37 billion the previous quarter.
Jeff Weiner, who joined LinkedIn in 2008 as the company’s president before becoming chief executive later that year, will stay on in his current role, reporting directly to Microsoft boss Satya Nadella.
“This deal brings together the world’s leading professional cloud with the world’s leading professional network,” Nadella wrote in the email. “I have been learning about LinkedIn for some time while also reflecting on how networks can truly differentiate cloud services. It’s clear to me that the LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business and an impressive network of more than 433 million professionals.”
Nadella went on to mention how Microsoft’s Office software suite could be combined with LinkedIn’s network in the future, such as the ability for Microsoft to serve up suggestions for a specialised expert through LinkedIn when its software recognises you’re trying to complete a specific task.