There’s a delightful symmetry in using my Microsoft Surface Studio to update my LinkedIn profile and post this note. Effective today, I’m joining Microsoft’s Board of Directors.
Ever since my co-founders and I started LinkedIn in 2003, the company’s mission has been to create new opportunities for every member of the global workforce, and thus boost the economic productivity of these individuals and the companies they work for.
Microsoft, in turn, helps individuals and organizations leverage the power of the professional cloud, transforming how they work through key productivity platforms of data analytics, security, and group collaboration.
So when the deal between LinkedIn and Microsoft was announced in June 2016, I and others noted how the combination would unite two companies that already share a core mission of making individuals and organizations more productive.
LinkedIn had been pursuing that mission through individual identity and the professional network, Microsoft through the professional cloud.
The way the two companies’ assets can amplify each other is powerful, and that’s why we made the deal.
The reasons the merger made sense in general are also why I’m joining Microsoft’s board. From this position, I will continue to focus on helping LinkedIn fulfill its mission of increasing the economic productivity of individual professionals and the companies they work for. I’ll also contribute more broadly as Microsoft deepens its presence in Silicon Valley and continues to weave social, AI, and other technologies into it products.
Before the acquisition, I had been serving as Chairman of LinkedIn’s Board; I hadn’t actually been an employee since 2009, after I hired Jeff Weiner as CEO. With the sale to Microsoft, LinkedIn obviously no longer has a board. While my goal had always been to continue to serve LinkedIn’s long-standing mission in a hands-on way, we needed to determine the best possible way to do that. After the acquisition was finalized in December, I began having more detailed conversations with Satya Nadella, Bill Gates, Microsoft Chairman John W. Thompson, Jeff Weiner, and others on the role I could play. Ultimately, we concluded that a position on Microsoft’s Board would be the best way to leverage my contributions. It’s an opportunity I’m honored to take on.
While my primary job is Partner at the venture capital firm Greylock, I’ve maintained an office next to Jeff Weiner’s at LinkedIn for the last nine years.
I spend substantial time there throughout the week, and that will continue. And just as I participated in a material way in the development of key LinkedIn initiatives such as LinkedIn China, our ProFinder professional services platform, and the acquisition and strategic development of our educational platform, Lynda.com, I will play an ongoing and comprehensive role in LinkedIn as it continues to grow. I’m also looking forward to getting to know employees who have been doing important work at Microsoft and, in particular, working closely with Satya who’s done a terrific job in his first 3 years as CEO.
In the face of issues like automation, the skills gap, shifting educational and career patterns, and socio-economic stratification, LinkedIn has never been more relevant. 467 million global users depend on our platform for career development and economic empowerment.
And following the combination with Microsoft, LinkedIn now has new resources and technology assets to deploy as it moves forward. Imagine a Cortana-like intelligent assistant helping you determine which third-degree connections make the most sense for you to pursue. Or LinkedIn Learning courseware that incorporates Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality technology for more immersive learning experiences.
These are the kinds of ideas we can begin to pursue as LinkedIn grows into an increasingly indispensable platform for navigating professional life in the 21st century. I look forward to working closely with Satya, Jeff, my new fellow Microsoft board members, and all my longstanding talented colleagues at LinkedIn as we all work together to connect the world’s professionals and organizations in ways that improve economic opportunities on an individual level and at scale.
It’s a humbling opportunity to join the team at Microsoft as a board member, which empowers so many people’s lives and productivity around the world.
This post was originally published at LinkedIn.