Allow me to be the 15th person to share the news that Microsoft announced the acquisition of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion dollars. So far there’s been a lot of confusion in this move trying to understand it. I’m at a bit of a loss myself, chalking this up in the same category as the Minecraft acquisition in 2014 for $2.5 billion. I’m going to hold off on passing judgement on the move, but might be able to categorize my initial reaction to something akin to this:
One thing that does strike me though is what this means for your personal data. Consider this…
Let’s say you work for Contoso and Contoso is on Office 365. So using the current permission model, Office 365 knows about my network relationships between people within Contoso… we’ve seen tools like Office Graph, Delve, the Microsoft Graph… they all tout their ability to show relationships between people. Now when I work for Contoso and do stuff in Office 365, it makes sense that Contoso owns that data.
But consider this new move. Once this deal completes, Microsoft will also know my entire professional network outside of Contoso as well. I can see the value integrating that data into what they already have, but who owns my data? How will access be controlled?
To be clear, I’m not saying the sky is falling or questioning Microsoft’s motives… but it does raise some interesting questions.
Today Contoso has access to my Office 365 data. As a developer, I can build an app that can read anyone’s email, calendar, OneDrive for Business files… almost anything… provided the tenant admin for Contoso approves my app and approves the admin consent is requires.
So once this deal goes through, Microsoft will also have the other professional network details on me… messages I’ve posted to LinkedIn groups, recruiters I’m friendly with, maybe messages on LinkedIn’s Mail too…
There’s certainly value associating that with my work in Contoso, but will I personally have control over how that’s connected? How granular will it be?
This will be quite interesting to see how the permissions, security and data firewalls are setup over the next few years if this goes through.